Coronavirus Anxiety in Young Children
How Do I help My Child Cope?
People all over the world are experiencing anxiety as we face an ever-changing world due to the Coronavirus. It is understandable if your child is experiencing that same anxiety too. Children might find it difficult to make sense of what they are seeing and hearing online, in the media - or from the people around them - making them particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness.Having an open, supportive discussion with your children can help them understand and cope with the changes in their world.
Ask Questions and Listen
Invite your child to talk about the issue and find out how much they know. Let them lead the discussion. If they are particularly young and haven't heard about Covid rather teach them good hand hygiene practises to avoid introducing new anxieties.
Make sure you are in a safe environment and allow them to talk freely. Engaging in playtime activites, stories and drawing can help open up a discussion.
Its important that you do not minimize or avoid their concerns. Acknowledge their feelings and assure them its normal to have these concerns. Let them know they can talk to you or other trusted adults whenever they need to.
Be Honest but Kid Friendly
Children have the right to the truth, but as parents we also have the responsibility to protect them from distress. Use age appropriate language, gauge their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. The video below is a great resource for children and parents alike.
Demonstrate how they can protect themselves
One of the best ways to keep children safe from coronavirus and other diseases is regular handwashing. For young children singing along with The Wiggles or following this dance can make it a fun learning experience.
Teaching your child how to cover a cough or sneeze with their elbow goes a long way to protect those around them. Ask them to tell you if they feel like they are hot (fever), have a cough or are having difficulty breathing.
As parents we are often dealing with the very real stresses of daily life especially during this period. We are better able to help others if we are in a healthy space. Children pick up on our body language and so it helps when they can feel you are calm and in control.
If you are feeling anxious or upset, take some time for self care. Whether that includes reaching out to family and friends or trusted healthcare providers in your community. Make time each day to engage in at least one relaxing or enjoyable activity.
Closing the Conversation
Ending the conversation by reassuring your child they can come to you with any questions is important. Watch their body language, their breathing and listen to their tone of voice to ensure they are not still experiencing distress. Visiting the doctor can help put their mind at ease if their level of anxiety is very high or if they just need a little reassurance that they are alright.