BILLINGS — COVID-19 is presenting some extra obstacles for parents and children.
Aside from keeping kids safe and healthy, doctors are encouraging parents to talk to their children about the pandemic.
“Kids really need to hear from you. They need to talk to you about it. Anything that is not talked about is more scary for them,” said Dr. Teresa Blaskovich, a pediatrician at the Children’s Clinic.
But first, the parent should get their own feelings in check, and get accurate information.
“You need to talk to them based on their age. You should start by asking them what they know and then go from there,” Blaskovich said.
Not all concerns will come up in conversation, which is why a parent should also rely on observation.
“While you’re doing this, you need to be aware of how they’re doing with everything and sort of looking for signs that they’re not coping well, like sleep disturbances or disruptions in their behavior,” she said.
Doctors also see some red flags on the horizon, as the number of mental health cases rise, it could have a lasting effect on children.
“People are not taking care of themselves as they should. All of those things are affecting kids," said Blaskovich. "So, kids might have a mild illness, but really, they are at big risk for the long-term implications of this pandemic.”
Skipping scheduled vaccines is another concerning trend since the pandemic began.
“We might see some vaccine preventable disease spiking after this happens, if they are not getting into a clinic and getting their vaccines on time,” she said.
Helping a child take action during these trying times can go a long way.
“Having kids write messages or draw pictures with chalk on the sidewalk is great. Having people make masks, those are things kids can help with and it empowers them, and it really helps them sort of heal from this experience.”
Pediatricians also recommend children get 60 minutes of physical activity every day.