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  • Leena A. Khanzode MD

How to help your Child during "Shelter in"

Hello Parents:


After a long hiatus, I decided to start writing blogs again to help parents and kids during this difficult time of “Shelter in”. I have collected a few resources from different groups and compiled them for you in this blog.


We are going through an interesting time with so much change happening every few hours. Change can generate stress and anxiety for all of us. Adults may think that the children will not notice all the changes and stress. However, they are very sensitive to what is going on.

Here are a few resources for parents to help their kids get through this phase of life.


Younger kids:

This mini-comic is really helpful for explaining the virus to young kids:

It's also being translated into many languages so if anyone needs another language, they may have it at the website as well.



Parents, please allow your kids to ask you questions about coronavirus and what is happening now, why we are in quarantine and how that is going to help? We often hide things and shelter our kids from the current news, but that approach only heightens the anxiety, so have an open conversation about the current issue and of course do it at a level the kid can understand it. Below are a couple resources to guide you.


Talking to Children about CoronaVirus:

https://www.aacap.org/App_Themes/AACAP/Docs/latest_news/2020/Coronavirus_COVID19Children.pdf?utm_source=Informz&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Annual%20Meeting


Talking Points for Parents and Teachers:

https://www.tinabryson.com/news/coronavirus-talking-points-for-parents-amp-teachers-with-the-whole-brain-child-approach


It is hard to keep Children engaged and busy during times like this. Below are some ideas for activities you can do with Children to help them deal with the current stress.

These are from Meehan Mental Health group:


Here are a few Free, Low Prep, and Minimal Supply Activities :


Bibliotherapy: Giraffes Can’t Dance. If you don’t have this book there is a link to the YouTube video of the book. You can pull it up on their computer screen share it can be co-viewed this way too! This blog has a download packet of three printable worksheets to use. If you do not have a printer, you can use markers and art supplies to create the worksheet by yourself!

Supplies: Giraffes Can’t Dance (or video), printed handouts (or computer paper), markers, crayons, pencils, or pens.


Guided Imagery: Safe Calm Space. Have kids watch Peace Out Guided Relaxation For Kids – Balloon by Cosmic Kids Yoga. Explore where their balloon took them and have them draw a picture of their safe, peaceful, calm space.

Supplies: Paper, crayons, markers, or colored pencils.


Pick a Miniature: I LOVE miniatures. And here’s a secret – you're likely to have a giant collection of their own miniatures in their home. You could have kids pick a miniature for a wide variety of feelings and ask them to explain how each miniature is like that feeling. You could have them pick miniatures to represent their strengths, their goals, or what they are like when they are with each member of their family. The sky is really the limit here. Supplies: Have the kid gather a collection of their own miniature objects.


Mindfulness Scavenger Hunt: Have the child do a scavenger hunt finding and collecting five things they see, four things that make noise, three things with texture, two things that smell, and one thing they taste. For other ideas check out this link here.

Supplies: Printer OR have the parent read off each item one by one.


Gratitude Scavenger Hunt: Okay and speaking of scavenger hunts, here is a link to an amazing gratitude scavenger hunt with a free printable. I also found another example and free printable here.

Supplies: Printer OR have the parent read off each item one by one.


Mindfulness: Get a free printable download of 12 “Mini Mindfulness” activities for kids here and 8 free printable breathing exercises here.

Supplies: Printer (parent only) OR read a copy of the exercises on your screen or alternative screen.


Bibliotherapy: Last Stop on Market Street. Book for gratitude. Don’t have the book? No worries – there is a version HERE that the author reads on YouTube. If you worry your kid isn’t old enough to click the link, the parent can sit in and the child and parent can watch the book together.

Supplies: Last Stop on Market Street (or the video), a thank you card OR paper and markers, crayons, or colored pencils.


Emotional Hedbandz: Get these free printable feeling cards here and hold it up to the camera without looking (or disable/cover the part of the program where you can see yourself). Explore emotions by taking turns asking one question each about the emotion until both emotions (or all with family) have been identified. The low budget version? Have the family write feeling words on small slips of paper. BONUS if you can find elastic, string, or a headband to hold the feeling card up. Supplies: Printer OR slips of paper to write emotion words on.


Emotional Regulation: Grab your emotional Regulation free download here, free anger dice game printable here, free anxiety coping skills mini card deck here, and free “anger buttons” printable worksheet here. Supplies: Printer (or read activities off the computer) and dice. Don’t have dice? Cut out slips of paper and draw from a cup!


Quick Draw: For this activity, you agree on a fairly short time limit. The limit doesn’t actually matter and it can be altered and flexible. I usually go between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Have the child get several pieces of printer paper and fold them into quarters. Each section is a new drawing. Using the time limit you instruct a child to make a new drawing in each section. Prompts can be anything you think would fit the child and can include things like drawing their proudest accomplishment, what mad looks like, what they worry about the most, the place they are the happiest, their favorite subject in school, the last time someone was angry with them, the last time they felt guilty about something, etc. After you go through 4-8 rapid drawings you circle back and use each drawing as a jumping-off point for a discussion. Supplies: Paper and crayons, markers, or colored pencils.


Mandalas: Use this amazing resource and this one to help children use mandalas to help express their inner world. Supplies: Paper and crayons, markers, or colored pencils.

Feeling Heart: Help young people understand and articulate all the complex and complicated feelings that are in their hearts. Unsure of what a feeling heart is? Check out an example and free printable worksheet here!

Supplies: Printer and crayons, markers, or colored pencils. No printer? You or your kid can draw out a heart on plain paper.


Music Body Outlines: I talk about these amazing feeling faces here BUT they also have body outlines included in the free printables! You can encourage the child to do a body feeling map OR one of my personal favorites play three songs of varying nervous system activation (ie soothing, happy and upbeat, angry and aggression) and have them listen to each song through. After each song have them map out what feelings they felt, where they felt it in their body, and compare the three.

Supplies: Printer and crayons, markers, or colored pencils. Don’t have a printer? Coach them to make three sheets “gingerbread man style”


Recipe for a Good Friend: Use the book This Moose Belongs to Me to process what it means to be a “good friend." Process what expectations Marcel has for his moose and if they are realistic. Don’t have the book – watch the video here! Develop your own recipe for a good friend with this free download. Brainstorm what ingredients are used to make up a “good friend” and include a recipe of how to put it all together. The sky is the limit! For fun, you can use trail mix to identify each trait (ie. raisins = fun, M&Ms = loyalty, etc.). You can also alter this for what it means to be a good family member and enjoy the snack as a family! Supplies: Printer and crayons, markers, or colored pencils. Snack food to make a “trail mix”. Don’t have a printer? Use a blank sheet of paper to create a recipe or snag a parent’s blank recipe card.


Big Feeling Eaters: Check out my blog post here about Big Feeling Eaters complete with how to make this emotional containment activity out of a Kleenex box. This is a great strategy for emotional regulation! Are you worried the family you work with won’t have a Kleenex box? You can make this activity out of an envelope (because almost EVERYONE has those) or to be honest with some thoughtfully folded and taped paper. Check out some examples here and here!

Supplies: Kleenex box, craft paper/wrapping paper, and art supplies OR envelope and art supplies.


Yoga: Cosmic Kids Yoga has an amazing YouTube channel with a TON of exciting yoga practices (Frozen, Harry Potter, or Pokémon anyone?) OR download these FREE kids animal yoga pose cards.

Supplies: Yoga mat OR a towel works just fine!


New Tune, New Mood: Identify with the child what mood they would like to have in the moment. This could be happy, excited, calm or anything else. Create a playlist with the child of their favorite songs that get them in this mood. They could design an album cover and list the songs out. You can play the songs together and encourage the child to move their body in whatever way feels comfortable for them.

Supplies: Paper and crayons, markers, or colored pencils.


Holding on and Letting Go: Have the child trace each one of their hands. In one hand (or just use the fingers if you want fewer prompts) write what the child has control over. You can write a list, draw pictures, or a combination of both. On the other hand, write what the child doesn’t have control over and needs to “let go”. Again - use words, pictures, or a combination. For further deepening, you could have the child separate the page and “destroy” what needs to be let go. That could be ripping it up, crumpling it, throwing it in the garbage, etc.

Supplies: Paper and crayons, markers, or colored pencils.



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