By, First Things First

These are challenging times for families, especially those with young children. We know that young children are especially sensitive to situations causing stress in their environments and among their adult caregivers. First Things First, Arizona’s early childhood agency, is committed to providing parents and caregivers with information and resources to support young children emotionally as we experience rising concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Below are some resources to help you talk with your toddler or preschooler about the coronavirus. A top tip? Keep it simple and age-appropriate. For example, “We’re taking a break from playing with others so we can all stay healthy.”

The Birth to Five Helpline is a free service available to all Arizona families and caregivers of young children. Having someone to talk with or lend an empathetic ear is more important than ever, and the Helpline’s early childhood experts are available by phone, text or email to answer any parenting questions, from basic health and nutrition to how to handle challenging behaviors and more. Helpline specialists can also help you think about how to talk with children in an appropriate way about what is going on in our world and all you are doing to keep them and their families safe. You can ask about fun, age-appropriate activities you can do at home with your child or children. They can also offer Zoom video calls to anyone in the state with children under the age of 1, to provide face-to-face interaction to help meet families’ needs.

Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available by phone/text at 877-705-KIDS (5437) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or you can send a message online.

The Birth to Five Helpline is operated by Southwest Human Development, Inc., with support from First Things First.

One of Mister Rogers’ famous quotes is “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”