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What to do when your child has COVID-19

A young boy wearing a patterned mask and a backpack.

Testing positive for COVID-19 can be scary, especially for kids. They might worry about their safety—and about missing school and other activities. As a parent, you might be worried too. These tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts can help your child feel better—and ease your own concerns.

Help kids cope with COVID-19

First, take the time you need to calm yourself. According to the AAP, if you are calm and relaxed, you can help your child feel the same.

Let your child lead the way. Give them room to ask questions. That can help you understand what they're most worried about. Stay positive. Let them know that COVID-19 is usually mild for children—and they might not feel sick at all. But be honest too. If you don't have the answer, you can always let your child know you will find it.

Focus on the future. Tell your child what they will likely be doing for the next few days—and when they can expect to return to normal. If your child is old enough, let them know they should wear a mask at home. If your child is worried about missing class, make a plan to help them catch up. Suggest some ways to stay busy (and even have fun) while in quarantine. You might plan some quiet activities or let them choose a favorite book or movie. Offer some options, and let your child choose. That can help them feel in control.

Reach out for support

Call your child's provider. In most cases, your child will do fine at home. But make sure to contact your provider right away if your child is at risk for severe COVID-19. Treatments may be available to help your child stay healthy. But starting them early is essential.

According to the AAP, your child's healthcare provider can also let you know how to monitor your child's symptoms—and tell you how to know if your child is ready to resume everyday activities.

Coordinate with your family and friends. Young children can't be left alone. But, if possible, make a family plan to limit exposure to the virus—especially for anyone at high risk. That might include having your child use a separate bedroom and bathroom from others in your home.

Even if you're isolating at home, it's important to remember that you are not alone. Reach out to friends and family for help if you need it. They might offer support on the phone or through video chat. And they may be able to help in other ways. A no-contact grocery delivery can make life easier when you're isolating. And a new coloring book or toy can boost a child's mood.

Find out the facts. Learning more about COVID-19 can help you feel in control. Our Coronavirus health topic center can help you get started.

Reviewed 1/31/2023

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