As schools across New York close for precautionary reasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic, children may notice a change in their normal routines — from parents staying home to work to not seeing their teachers or classmates.

It is normal for children to pick up on those changes, said Jessica Pirro, the executive director of Crisis Services.

To help soothe children, Pirro suggests limiting or supervising social media use by children, having open age-appropriate conversations about the virus, and talking about any feelings they may have.

“As parents and caregivers, as well, we have to pay attention to how we’re presenting yourself, in our homes, with each other and in our conversations because children will pick up on our anxieties and our stressors,” she said.

It’s important to maintain as much of a normal routine as possible for children even though they won’t be at school, such as making sure they eat at the same time they normally do and go to bed at the same time as well,” Pirro said.

Parents should keep an eye out for any changes in behavior such as if the child isn’t sleeping or eating like they normally do.

If your child already has a mental health diagnosis, be aware that they’re more vulnerable to stress from this, Pirro said.

Crisis Services operates a 24-hour, 7-day hotline at 716-834-3131, or visit their website here.