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As Kansas and the nation deal with the spreading coronavirus, children have many questions about their changing environment.

They’re out of school and not able to participate in youth activities.

In many cases, their parents are either working from home or left without a job as businesses struggle with social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

A publication from Bradford Wiles and Elizabeth Kiss can help communities recognize the negative effects that tough times have on the mental well-being of children.

“We sometimes only think of disasters as weather-related events, but we know that anything that disrupts daily life and community well-being on a large scale is a disaster,” said Wiles, associate professor and extension specialist with Kansas State University’s College of Health and Human Services. “Thinking about and being compassionate in how we all feel and process our emotions is crucial to our own, our families and our communities resilience in the face of the current pandemic.”

“Disasters: Children’s Responses and Helping Them Recover” is available online from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore.

Wiles and Kiss, associate professor and extension specialist, outline suggested ways parents can help children cope during hard times:

• Reassure the child that you are still together and that you will be there to help as long as you can.

• Return to pre-disaster routines to the extent possible, including bedtime, bath time, meal time and waking up times.

• Make sure you are taking care of yourself. It can be difficult to take care of a child if you are not feeling well.

• Talk with your child about your feelings.

• Encourage children to draw, write or tell stories about their experiences. Talking about how the disaster or tough time has changed them can be beneficial.

The publication also includes signs to look for in children and how to emerge in a positive direction from times of crisis.