Helping Your Young Child Adapt to Change during COVID-19

Many of our children including our young ones with disabilities are having a tough time adjusting to changes during COVID-19. Here are some recommendations that offer guidance on how you can support your children:

Do's Dont's

Observe your child’s behavior and help them stay calm. Pay attention to changes in your child's behavior, sleep routines, and feeding patterns.  

Engage in and repeat activities that help your child feel calm. If you remain calm, your child will remain calm as well. 

For children one year old or younger, rotating their toys may help with their attention span. 

For children of preschool age, reinforce positive behaviors like wanting to help around the house or engaging in educational activities.




Don’t ignore behaviors like. Thumb sucking, bedwetting, being clingy, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior, withdrawal, increase in temper tantrums, repetitively acting out, struggle to focus or engage in play, or becoming more aggressive. 








Be a good listener and communicate with your child. Ask your child about their feelings. They may have questions about why they can’t visit grandma. They may be wondering why everyone has to wear a mask. Remember to keep your answers short and simple. You can use simple language and visuals to help your child get their feelings out. 

If your child is nonverbal or has limited verbal abilities, you can encourage them to draw a picture to show their feelings. They can also use assistive technology, like an iPad or Picture Exchange Communication System-PECS. 

Use a calm voice. Keep questions and explanations age-appropriate.


Don’t stop communicating with your child. This often results in children imagining the worst. Children can tell when we are upset and they are absorbing everything we do, say, and listen to on the news. 


Don’t offer unnecessary details or facts, such as the increasing number of COVID-19 cases or deaths. 






Be attentive to their needs and provide comfort. Pay attention to crying or any sounds your baby makes. 


Children, especially babies, respond well to being held and some love to be swaddled. Others like to be gently rocked. You can try singing to your child.

Preschool age children absorb information that can be scary in cycles. They ask, listen, play, and then repeat. Keep checking in with your child and provide plenty of affection.  


Don’t ignore your child or display anger. Don’t ignore your infant when crying or your child’s questions/feelings. 

Our children need our attention especially during this time. Parents are juggling a lot, so it can be helpful to spend time with your child in addition to the daily things you do for them.

Don’t display anger in front of your child.




Monitor television, internet and social media viewing. Focus on positive news and if you must stay tuned in, be mindful of what you are watching when your child is nearby.

Don’t watch continuous COVID-19 news updates around your child. This may increase fear and anxiety for your child and for you.

Practice and explain simple safety steps. Use visuals, social stories, and simple language to help your child understand the importance of washing their hands and staying apart from others if they do need to go outdoors. 


Keep your child’s pediatrician appointments, especially if your child is under 2 and due for vaccinations.


Don’t stop being cautious. We can show our children why they have to take safety measures without being obsessive. For example, if we are telling our child to wash their hands we should model this behavior for them. Children learn from your example.




Keep a daily routine. Set your child up with a routine to help them feel secure and less anxious. You can offer opportunities for your child to play and learn as a part of their routine. 

Examples include reading, singing, dancing, and playing games. Some children may also enjoy activities like cooking or even helping to sort and fold laundry. These activities can provide great bonding moments with your child.

Don’t forget to put structures and routines in place for your child. A lack of structure can lead to chaos and anxiety for your child.



Develop a plan for maintaining contact with friends and family members. You can do this through web-based video conferencing, telephone, or cell phone video calls.

Don’t ignore calls from friends or family members or prohibit your child talking to friends or family. Children need to feel connected to their support network during this time. 

Parenting and Advocacy, Behavior and bullying
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