Children / Parents

Families across the country are adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are parents trying to keep children occupied and entertained, but also helping children understand the pandemic.

It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. Acknowledging some level of concern, without panicking, is appropriate and can result in taking the necessary actions that reduce the risk of illness.

How should I answer my child's questions about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

When talking to your child about COVID-19 remain calm and reassuring.

Additional resources to help you talk to your child about COVID-19

My child is more emotional recently. Is this normal?

Anxiety and fear are normal during this time even for children. Every child is different, and they will show their stress in different ways.

Common behavior changes you may notice include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Toileting accidents or bedwetting
  • Irritability or “acting out” in teens
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain

As a parent or guardian, you can:

  • Take time to answer your child or teenager’s questions about the outbreak. Use KidsHealth, the Centers for Disease Control & Infection, and Healthy Children by the American Academy of Pediatrics tips to navigate questions and concerns from children and teens.
  • Reassure your child that they are safe.
  • Maintain regular routines, like bedtime, meals, physical activity, and family time, while allowing some flexibility. Physical and mental health needs can change, and you may need to adapt your schedule occasionally.
  • Be a role model for how to handle stressful experiences. If you are showing you are overly worried or anxious, this may cause your child to become more anxious too. Seek out support for yourself if you are struggling during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Monitor their media exposure- much of the news on TV is intended for an adult audience and can be overwhelming and scary for a younger viewer.

If your child has a pre-existing mental health condition, please continue their treatment and watch for new or worsening symptoms. If you notice anything changing with your child, contact their healthcare or mental health provider.  Oakland Community Health Network has a crisis hotline open 24/7: 800-231-1127.

My daycare is closed, and I need help finding childcare.

If you are a first responder, healthcare worker, or other essential (critical infrastructure) staff, the State of Michigan is working to ensure frontline and essential workers have access to childcare.  If you are deemed an essential worker and your own childcare provider is closed, complete this form to help find childcare near you.

If you need help finding childcare after the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order is lifted you can contact Great Start to Quality, which is available for any family in Michigan to help find quality and affordable childcare.  Call the local resource center at 877-614-7328 to help start your search.

What can I do with my child while school is closed?

Children thrive on routine. It is important to maintain a routine with your child during this time. Include your child in setting their daily schedule while school is closed. Remember to be flexible with scheduling to meet changing physical and mental health needs.

  • If your child is school-aged, check to see what resources their teachers or school district has suggested or provided during “Stay Home, Stay Safe.”
  • Check with your child’s school to see how meals will be provided during school closure.  Michigan Department of Education has a map showing sites serving free school lunches. Find one near you!
  • United Way of Southeastern Michigan has a list of online educational resources for children.
  • Have puzzles, crafts, books, and other hands-on activities available for your child.
  • Use social media and video chats to connect your child with friends and family.
  • Help your child stay active by going outside. Spending time outside is good for physical and mental health. Remember to practice social distancing and avoid playground equipment.
  • Engaging in healthy behaviors during this outbreak will help the whole family stay healthy, physically and mentally, during this outbreak.

Can I set up a playdate for my child while school is closed?

It is not recommended to have a playdate with other families at this time. Governor Whitmer on March 23, 2020 announced a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order. All Michigan residents should refrain from all non-essential activities until the order is lifted. Essential activities include going grocery shopping or picking up food, obtaining medication, walking or riding bikes outdoors, and going to work if you an essential worker.

Avoid gatherings of children or adults outside of your immediate family (immediate family is your children, spouse, or partner or those you are currently living with at home). If children meet outside of school in bigger groups, it can put everyone at risk.  Oakland County Health Division Health Officer Leigh-Ann Stafford on March 21, 2020 issued emergency orders that closed playgrounds and shopping malls to protect Oakland County residents and reduce social gatherings. These orders are in place to help prevent spreading COVID-19.