Tips for parents during social distancing 

Everyone is feeling the strain of social distancing, and young children are no exception. Here are some tips to help your family adjust and get through.

"Adjusting to social distancing at home" picture with a preschool teacher holding up a toddler Establish a routine

Change and disorder can be stressful. Reestablishing a routine can give everyone an increased sense of order and predictability. Consider setting a consistent morning routine, meal times, work times, play times, and bedtime. 

Remember: Play is how children explore their world and learn. Be sure to make play an essential part of your day. 

Set boundaries

If you’re working from home, be flexible with your work routine where you can to give young children the attention they need. Work in shorter periods with frequent breaks to interact with kids. Alternate work/play schedules with your partner, if possible. Take advantage of times when children are sleeping. Help children understand when you’re working and when you can play with visual cues. For example, shut the door to a home office or post a picture by your workspace that is clearly visible. 

Practice good coping skills

You have an opportunity to teach children how to deal with adversity and model good coping skills. Here are some stress management suggestions: 

  • Help children express their emotions by talking about it, naming feelings, drawing, and playing. Reminisce about fun memories like a recent vacation, birthday, or funny story. 
  • Move your body! 
    • Stage a dance party 
    • Take a walk together (while distancing) 
    • Go for a family bike ride 
    • Do yoga together (videos available online) 
  • Practice mindful breathing. Take slow deep breaths in through your nose and long breaths out through your mouth

Give yourself some leeway

There is no guide book on how to manage a family in quarantine. Give yourself space and grace to try new things, make mistakes, and adjust. If that means allowing more screen time and watching movies, that’s OK.

These tips were prepared by the CSU Department of Occupational Therapy in partnership with the CSU Early Childhood Center. Both are a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.