With the constant stream of negative news about coronavirus and so much uncertainty, many kids are feeling fear and anxiety right now. To help kids navigate uncomfortable emotions like fear and stress, parents can do the following:
PARENTS: 5 Ways to Help Kids Manage Anxiety About Coronavirus
1. Welcome questions and conversations.
With so much uncertainty and misinformation flowing, kids are bound to have questions. Invite your child to share what they know and what concerns they may have. Answer questions in an age-appropriate way, keeping responses simple.
2. Validate their feelings.
Instead of saying “don’t worry” or “you shouldn’t feel that way,” allow your child to share what they are feeling. Validation means letting kids share their thoughts and feelings without judging or criticizing them. It means that you understand what your child feels is real to her. Phrases parents can use to validate their kid’s emotions and experiences are, “I’ve felt that way too” or “This is hard, it’s okay to feel scared.”
3. Be calm and reassuring.
Get a better understanding of the facts related to kids and coronavirus by visiting the CDC website or other reputable sources. Reassure your child of the things your family and community are doing to keep kids safe. Remind kids how they can help by controlling the things they can control, like washing their hands often, wearing a mask in public places, sneezing and coughing into a tissue or their elbow, and getting plenty of sleep.
4. Help kids work through fears in healthy ways.
Strong emotions can be overwhelming for kids. Helping children understand and manage intense emotions is a skill that takes practice and guidance. The phrase “Name to Tame” is used in child development circles. When we put words to what emotions we’re feeling, we’re on the path to regulating those emotions. Once the feelings are named, parents can help their kids determine what tools might help when they feel this way, such as taking deep breaths, writing down worries and putting them in a worry box, exercising/playing, or talking to a trusted adult.
5. Stick to a routine.
Having a predictable structure throughout the day helps children feel safe and secure. Try to stick to a daily routine so that your kids understand what their day looks like, such as time for school work, time for play, and regular family mealtimes.
Helping families manage fear and anxiety
This is a stressful time for both kids and parents. If anxiety seems overwhelming to you and/or your child (if you’re having trouble sleeping, eating, or interacting) it might be time to get help. Most behavioral health providers are offering virtual visits and can schedule new patients. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help!
PASS IT ON. Jessica Speer’s weekly BLOG focuses on helping kids and families thrive. If you know someone who might appreciate this content, please pass it on! Click here to follow blog via email or social media.