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Children may need help transitioning into next phase of pandemic

Children and COVID-19
Posted at 5:36 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 21:01:04-04

BEREA, Ohio — For children who've found themselves stuck inside, the transition back outside can be tricky.

Especially since the world they once knew now looks dramatically different.

There are some things that parents can do to guide their little ones through the next phase of the pandemic.

Trystan Imes may only be 4 years old, but he has a firm grasp on what’s going on around him.

"He understands it enough to where he'll stay safe and stay away from people," said Candace Imes.

For weeks, like so many others, Trystan, along with his parents Candace and Derek, have been at home.

"I know people are getting stir crazy," said Derek Imes.

Even though the State of Ohio is now lifting some coronavirus restrictions, the Berea family still plans on staying put.

"My biggest fear is that it's this giant rush that we're back to what normal was - not what the new normal is going to be," said Derek Imes.

Even though they're not going anywhere right now, navigating what life looks like when they do venture out could be jarring, even for children like Trystan, who may seem content right now.

"All kids may have a different grief reaction to what has happened. I don't even know if we really understand the magnitude yet of how it will impact children," said Dr. Dakota King-White.

King-White, a counseling professor from Cleveland State, said moms and dads first need to gauge where their child is at coming out of the stay at home order.

"Are they nervous, are they anxious, are they fearful? Paying close attention to how they're transitioning even after the state begins to open up," said King-White.

King-White encourages parents to not only focus on their child's physical safety but emotional as well.

“If kids are having these fears about the pandemic and going back into society, I think it's going to be important for parents to have authentic conversations with the kids," said King-White.

Among the topics to cover: why people are wearing masks and avoiding close contact?

"It's important for parents to have conversations about what the world will look like," said King-White.

There are a few warning signs to tell if a child’s return to society is starting to take a toll.

"Pay attention to behaviors that have changed. Are the kids becoming more isolated, are they talking less, are they eating less?" said King-White.

While Candace and Derek will be on the look out for how their son Trystan transitions, it's not going to be happening any time soon.

Candace Imes said it will take "numbers going down," before the Imes family feels comfortable returning to their old routine.

"Some people don't take it seriously because they don't know someone who was infected," Imes said.

Until that decline in coronavirus cases, the family of three remains on guard despite getting a green light to get out a bit more.

"Hand washing, safe distances, be kind, be friendly. We have to be safe and smart about it,” said Candace Imes.

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