Here’s a link to some great tips for helping your children cope with sheltering in place from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Over a quarter of the country is now “sheltering in place” to at least some extent. Most kids are out of
school. Many are engaged in a combination of home-based and online learning, with varying degrees
of success. The situation is understandably stressful for both children and parents. Here are a few
suggestions which may help:
1. Try and establish a regular routine and schedule at home. Kids are reassured by
structure and predictability.
2. Give kids choices, where there are choices. You may not be able to visit friends or go
to the movies, but you can pick which game to play or program to watch.
3. Help kids keep in touch with friends and family members by phone, e-mail, FaceTime,
Zoom, Skype, etc.
4. If kids have questions about COVID-19 or about why you’re sheltering in place,
answer them honestly, using words and concepts they can understand.
5. Help children find accurate and up to date information. Print out Fact Sheets from the
CDC, WHO or your local health authority.
6. Don’t let children watch too much television with frightening images. The repetition of
such scenes can be disturbing and confusing.
7. Encourage kids to choose something new to learn about. It could be a game, a craft
or a challenging book
8. Make sure kids stay physically active. If you’re in a rural area, take a walk outside
(observing social distancing guidelines). If you’re in a more urban setting, help your
child develop and maintain a regular in-home exercise routine.
Helping Kids Cope While
Sheltering in Place
9. Let kids participate in menu planning and meal preparation. Try and cook or bake
10. Be flexible…and patient. Sheltering in place may seem fun for the first few days, but
the novelty quickly wears off. Your kids may not always feel like talking or doing what
11. Be honest. Acknowledge that this is a difficult time for everyone. It’s normal to feel
tense and anxious under such trying and unusual circumstances.
12. Give kids space. Everyone needs some private “down time”.
13. Let little things go. Try not to overreact when things break, take too long or don’t go
quite as expected.
14. Make future plans. Talk about and research things to do and places to go after the
For tips on talking to children about COVID-19, see
David Fassler, M.D. is a child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing in Burlington, Vermont. He is also a
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine, and member of the
Consumer Issues Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.