Managing Children’s Anxiety in the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 29, 2020
Managing Children’s Anxiety in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful experience for all of us, and it can be especially stressful to children who may not understand what is going on. Read below for a few tips on what parents can do to manage their children’s anxiety:

1. Be honest with your kids. – This is a confusing time for both kids and adults. Tell your children that this is a new experience for all of us. Try saying, “I understand if it feels scary or if you are worried, but I am right here with you, and we are both safe.”

2. Validate their worries and feelings that are unrelated to COVID-19 – Being isolated from friends, missing school, and being unable to celebrate events may be upsetting for your children. Theymay feel like they don’t have permission to think about, worry about, or talk about the anxiety they’re feeling that is unrelated to the pandemic. Let them know that you know this is a big change, and that you can still figure out ways to have celebratory experiences, even if they are different from how you originally planned them.

3. Frame what’s going on as protecting others – By washing their hands and being mindful, your children are being health superheroes. Try giving them an empowering message instead of an alarming one. You can try saying, “by washing your hands, you are not only keeping yourself safe, but you’re helping to protect others.”

4. Create flexible routines. – Try writing out a plan for your children. For older children, try asking them what they think is a good daytime routine. Make sure it includes something healthy for their bodies, something healthy for their brain, and something healthy for their relationships. However, try to accept that there may not be a perfect routine or predictable day-to-day experience. Explain clearly that there may come a time when the unexpected will arise. If you are consistent, they will understand that you are there for them.

For more information, listen to the full Road to Resilience podcast episode, “Pandemic-Proof Parenting Tips” here:

For more COVID-19 resources for providers and parents, click here.