COVID-19: Real Talk

Real Talk offers answers to real questions from real people, with ideas for parents, family and community members. Got a question for Real Talk? Send us an email.

My child is anxious about what the future holds. How can I support them when I'm just as worried?

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

Don't be afraid to talk to your kids about what's happening in the world, and how you can all work together to be safe. Working with them to express their fears and teaching them to rely on others for support when they need it is a valuable lesson you can share during this difficult time. When your child asks about the future, listen carefully and offer to look for answers to those questions together. You can look for counseling services via local agencies or hotlines or explore these resources that explain the disease and the risk involved.

It can be hard for kids to open up to their parents, and hard for parents to admit they don't have all the answers. Family members can be a source of support for both parents and their children by offering a listening ear and comfort, either through talk or text.

As a community leader, faith leader or leader in a local organization, you can be a great resource for advice and support for families to turn to. Families are experiencing stress in a way that they haven't before and offering a listening ear or assisting them navigate to supports within the community could be just the thing they need. Another option is hosting Virtual Support Groups to provide families and youth a safe place to talk about their concerns and build connectedness during this time of isolation.

Should always I keep my baby home? What if I need to go to the store or pharmacy? Does she need a mask?

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

You should try to keep your baby at home as much as possible to keep them safe from infection. While there have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children, we do know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus. It is important to follow the advice of your pediatrician and never hesitate to ask for advice from them.

Some pharmacies are offering delivery service or have a drive through and some stores offer curbside pick-up. If you don't have someone that can run these small errands for you consider using these “no contact” options.

Do not put a face covering on a child younger than two years old, and keep blankets and toys out of your baby carrier or car seat when you travel. Never leave your baby in a car unattended, even for a short while.

If you are a relative to a family member with a newborn or smaller child, now is the time to reach out to them and offer your help! Support parents by offering to run errands and shop for them.

If you are a friend, neighbor or know of someone in your community that has a newborn or smaller child now is the time to reach out to them! Work together to support the families in your community. If you're headed to the store, ask if anybody needs something you can pick up and drop it off for them at their door.

I don't have income right now - how do I pay for diapers and necessities?

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

No matter where you live in Texas, you can dial 2-1-1, or (877) 541-7905, and find information about resources in your local community. Whether you need assistance finding food, housing, child care, crisis counseling or substance abuse treatment, one number is all you need to know. You can also visit the Texas Diaper Bank for direct diaper needs.

If you have a family member that is struggling with basic needs you can support them by offering to buy or locate diapers or other necessities in your area. Call 2-1-1, local organizations or congregations that can help.

Check in with the families in your neighborhood or community regularly to ensure they have all the essential items they need. Consider helping out your whole community by organizing a baby needs or basic needs drive. Faith-based organizations, non-profit organizations or community resource centers may be good partners to support your efforts or may already have a drive planned. Consider partnerships that may benefit your community.

I’m pregnant. Am I at higher risk from COVID-19?

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

It's okay to be worried about your baby. Right now we don't know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public or not. With other viral respiratory infections, like the flu, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. Make sure you're practicing social distancing, staying healthy, taking vitamins and avoiding other people who are sick or feeling unwell. The March of Dimes has some useful information and recommendations.

Offer to run errands for the mom-to-be and continue to be a source of support for her.

Offer to help the whole family with contact-free deliveries and errand-running (keep safe and practice social distancing). Continue to be innovative when it comes to providing supports to moms - from virtual support groups to on-line forums, there are ways to continue supporting mom's during this exciting period.

Our daycare is closed! What can I do?

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

You are not alone! Parents across Texas are working to find the balance between staying connected, daily life, work, childcare and self-care. Right now, the most important thing is to have realistic expectations for yourself, expect that kids will be kids and do your best to manage your stress. We will routinely update our Resource Bank with tools and tips to help you keep your kid entertained, your family connected and ideas for self-care!

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Break up the workday with regular time to interact with your child, whether that's with active play, taking a walk, or just spending time with your young one.
  • For other caregivers, taking a break to eat lunch or snacks with your child may be the best option.
  • Consider relaxing your rules around screen time. This may give you some time to complete crucial tasks for work or simply give you a few minutes to yourself.
  • Remember, kids will be kids

Other household members should consider how they can help out. From entertaining your young one to keeping the home in order and food prepared, these unprecedented times call for teamwork. Family members who live outside the home can help with food delivery and checking in virtually to let parents know they're not alone. Consider offering to have a virtual story time during the day or other creative ways to engage a young child to give the parents a break.

Offer to help the family with contact-free deliveries and errand-running (keep safe and practice social distancing). Share resources to keep children active and learning If you provide activities for children in your community consider taking them virtual! From story time to art class to sport ball, any support you can offer families will help. Get creative and help families stay connected!

My 3-year-old has started having toilet accidents. Is this normal? What should I do?

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

It's important to be patient and understanding. Children are sensitive to changes in routine and we're all trying to establish new routines right now. Let your child know it's okay and that accidents happen. With potty training, it's okay to start over! If you've experienced a setback go ahead and jump back in to training by setting times to sit on the potty, read books about going to the potty and watch shows around it.  Your child will be back on track before you know it!

If you have a family member that is going through this let them know that toilet training set-backs happen. Encourage them to start the process over and be patient, they will get there again! Offer to virtually read a book about going to the potty to help reinforce their routine, offer encouragement and a listening ear and ask them what supports they could use during this process.

Share resources for where to get pull-ups if they are hard to find in your community and ideas for toilet training. Being a support for families has never been more important. If you currently work with families consider offering a virtual support group for families needing to connect with other adults and share ideas.

My daughter misses her friends, and she doesn’t understand why she can’t go play. How can I make her feel better?

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

We’re all experiencing “cabin fever” due to the lack of social connection and younger kids are no different! Here are some ideas:

  • Schedule a regular video chat or playdate to give them the opportunity to stay connected with their friends.
  • Plan an activity for the kids to do together (like a show-and-tell) to help facilitate some conversation and even learning.
  • Have kids write (or narrate) emails or draw pictures to send to their friends.
  • Apps such as Marco Polo, FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo, or Facebook Messenger Kids provide an opportunity for children to connect with their friends.
  • Read the kids a story, play Simon Says, lead a sing-along, and text the photos to keep them connected.

Schedule time every week to connect to the children in your life. Even a few minutes will help a 3-5 year old feel connected to those they care about - neighbors, grandparents, relatives, etc.

Share safe and secure online games and resources with parents and families or consider hosting a virtual activity for children to join. There are all sorts of ways to keep children engaged from hosting a virtual art class to sport ball. Get creative and help families stay connected!

My tweens are getting on each other's nerves. Help!

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

Even on the best of days, siblings can drive each other crazy. The shelter in place orders that are active in a lot of places across the state make giving each other space even more challenging.

  • Consider designating a space in your home where your kids can go if they want some space. If your kids share a room consider having them agree upon a rotating schedule of quiet time in their room.
  • This is a great time and age to start giving them more responsibility and ownership of household tasks. Work together to set family schedules, tasks, and give positive affirmations when tasks and schedules are adhered to. Make each child responsible for their projects, from setting up to cleaning up.
  • When flare-ups and fights happen, teach them to work through their differences and talk to you about their problems and how they might solve them together.

Listen to the children in your life and affirm/validate their emotions. It's important to reinforce the schedules set by the parents. It's challenging for everyone right now so being as supportive as you can to both the parents and kids will go a long way.

Being a trusted adult for kids to talk to and interact with is important; it's great for a parent and kids to have someone to talk to so they know they aren't alone.

My teen is super stressed about graduating high school and college plans during COVID-19

  • For Parents
  • For Family Members
  • For Community Members

Knowledge is power for you and your teen. Help them manage what they can do during this time. Check high school and college websites for what guidance, changes or extensions schools are making to their graduation or admissions processes. Make a list of what is stressing them out most to least, and pick some at the bottom to tackle to free up some room to tackle the biggest worries, and get some confidence for tackling challenges.

This is also a good time to explore healthy ways to independently cope with stress, both in times of crisis, and preparing to manage the day to day stress of being a young independent adult once they are out of high school.

If you have recently been through graduation and the college application process consider offering to help. Parents are currently trying to navigate a lot and your support and guidance might be really helpful.

School counselors and career guides can be a great support to families right now. If you have recently been through graduation and the college application process consider offering to be a mentor in your community, church or youth groups to support families navigating these unchartered waters.

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