MERIDEN — Explaining a life-threatening global pandemic to children can be particularly daunting when the people children rely on for safety and comfort are frightened themselves.
“The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has ushered in a period of uncertainty and change across the world, and with that often comes great unease and disruption in the lives of families including here in greater Meriden,” said Maren Odell, programming and development coordinator for the Child Guidance Clinic for Central Connecticut. “Fortunately, parents, adults, and other community members can have an amazing capacity to mitigate the impact of this trauma on their children and themselves by practicing kindness, maintaining structure and routine, and cultivating an environment of physical and emotional safety.”
The Child Guidance Clinic’s offices are operating remotely and offering telehealth and telephone services. If parents have any concerns they can call the office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 203-235-5767. A program coordinator is in the office and can assess needs and direct them to the program that can offer the best support.
“Our mission is to support this effort with behavioral health services and community outreach that promote wellness as we all navigate this challenging, unknown terrain,” Odell said. “We are all in this together, and together we will be resilient.”
The clinic is hosting its first community web discussion for parents on today at 2 p.m. called “Understanding Challenging Behaviors at Home During COVID-19. Licensed Mental Health Social Workers Kristin Lariviere and Samantha West will talk about young children’s behavior in response to traumatic times such as the COVID-19 pandemic answer some common questions from parents, and share some strategies to help families cope and stay sane, safe and connected. Parents can go to https://zoom.us/j/968103846.
The Child Guidance Center of Central Connecticut is offering tips and ideas for parents and caregivers to help dealing with children.
Some tips for parents and caregivers include connecting through calls/text/internet, add extra time for stress relief, practice self-care and focus on your mental health.
For children: Reassure them that they are safe. Let them talk about their worries, share your own coping skills, create a routine and structure.
Tips for quarantine/isolation: Keep in contact with your loved ones via social media, texts and phone calls, create a daily self-care routine, keep yourself busy, games, books, movies, and focus on new relaxation techniques.
The Child Guidance Clinic also encourages parents and caregivers to get outside and exercise while maintaining social distance and suggests activities such as a scavenger hunt.
“With all the uncertainty we are facing today, the persistent cycle of the earth and nature can be comforting,” the center posted. “Consider getting some fresh air and a refresh to your mental health by taking a walk with your kids today and celebrating the start of spring.”