Parents have shared that their children have begun showing symptoms of anxiety during COVID-19 that weren’t present before. How do we help our kiddos know the facts without becoming overwhelmed by them?
1. Check Yourself
Children take their cues from their parents and caregivers. If you are feeling anxiety about this, they are too. Ensure that you taking your own self-care measures to support your mental health. One thing you can do is begin limiting where you get your information from. Choose 2-3 trusted sources like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Health, and the Academy of Pediatrics.
2. Knowledge Is Power
Your child is more aware of what is going on than you think they are. The old saying, “knowledge is power” applies here, giving your child age-appropriate snippets of information helps them to understand the current circumstances instead of simply feeling afraid. Give the facts, without the hype and drama of the news. And remember your child is listening even when you aren’t talking directly to them, so be careful how you speak about this topic when little ears are around.
3. Focus on What You’re Doing to Stay Safe
Empower your child by focusing conversations on the measures they can take to stay safe: washing their hands, keeping social distance, wearing a mask in public. You also want them to know that the adults are making choices to keep them safe as well:
- keeping kiddos at home
- limiting visitors
- trips to the grocery
By focusing the conversation on what you and your child can do to stay safe you are giving your child a feeling of control over a situation that can feel powerless.
4. Create a Routine
A predictable routine gives children (and adults) a feeling of stability and security. This is of paramount importance during this time. Your child may feel more anxious about the disruptions in their routine than the virus itself. For the best defense against anxiety, design and stick to a routine that prioritizes sleep, healthy eating, and exercise. But also make sure that you make time for self-care, both for yourself and the kiddos. Carve out time every day to do something that is life-giving and fun.
5. Check In Regularly
One of the most effective ways that you can reduce your child’s anxiety is simply by providing them with repeated opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings. This will not be a one and done conversation. Listen, and empathize with the fears or frustrations they’re having. Then together, come up with plans to make the most of the situation. This is an opportunity to teach resilience.