Let’s face it: keeping your kids safe AND happy during COVID-19 is more of a challenge than we all want it to be. Kids who are used to socializing miss seeing their friends, and kids who are natural introverts may be struggling with the idea of re-integrating back into their old ways of living.

Whether your school district is staying closed, trying a hybrid program, or is re-opening fully in the fall, it’s likely that your kids are going to continue to face new mental health challenges along the way.

While you can’t change their circumstances, there are ways to help your kids navigate these changing times. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions!

Give them a “feelings” journal. Tell them that they can write down anything they feel, at any time. On days they’re happy, have them record it! But also let them know the journal is a place for them to vent about any frustration, sadness, or fear they’re experiencing as well. This will help them become better acquainted with their emotions, and eventually better prepared to talk about them with you.

Find ways to get outside. Staying indoors can negatively affect anyone’s mental health. Whether you have a backyard for your kids to play in, or you start going on family walks through the neighborhood (wearing masks if needed!), stepping away from the screens and getting out into the sunshine can immediately brighten your child’s day.

Prepare them with knowledge. Nothing is scarier than the unknown. That’s why it’s recommended to let your children know the basics of what is going on in the world. This could mean telling them what the COVID-19 symptoms are, what the plan is if your family gets sick, and how you can all take precautions to keep yourselves safe.

If needed, find a virtual therapist. If you feel like your child needs extra help with their mental health during this time, seek out a therapist for them. Many therapists are taking on client virtually in this time—here is a list of resources to help you find one!