She encourages parents to focus on the positive. “Yes, it’s a serious thing, but you tell them, we are all working as a family and as a nation to handle this. We can handle it, we got it. There are teams of researchers working on solutions right now.“
Reitz says it’s also important for families to stick to their routines as much as possible, whether it’s having dinner or some activity the family does. “Any change in routine can be hard on kids,” she says.
Health officials are discouraging people from gathering in large areas, so many attractions around Pittsburgh are now closed, including the Children’s Museum, National Aviary and Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Reitz says parents will have to get creative to find something for kids to do.
“You might ask them if they want to learn about something new,” she says. “Or just get them involved, like putting together a shopping list of things you may need.”
Jeff Magill, manager of emergency preparedness at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, says social distancing and other safeguarding measures can take a toll.
“These social distancing recommendations and quarantine policies are necessary public health protocols, and crucial to protecting our health and safety, but they can really break up our routines, which we know can increase our stress levels.”
He acknowledges that people want to stay aware of the latest developments, but cautions against overdoing it.
“It can be tempting to get glued to the news, but that may only increase anxiety. Set limits to the amount of news coverage you watch, read and listen to. Activities like reading, watching movies and doing at-home exercises, such as yoga, can be a healthy and calming distraction throughout a quarantine.”