As the international impact of the COVID-19 virus continues to increase, news about the virus dominates the media, and has entered family discussions and classroom conversations throughout our global communities. Parents and educators are sharing best-practice information on how to manage children’s anxiety about COVID-19.
While families grapple with changes to their daily work and school routines, an increasing number of children are feeling uncertain and anxious about the future. Similarly, many parents and educators may be left wondering how to best support the children in their lives around their anxiety. So, what can parents do in the face of COVID-19 worries?
Top Tips for Parents to help manage children anxiety about COVID-19
The exact information you provide your child about the Coronavirus is dependent upon their age, and your family’s experiences. However, some general tips to support your children include:
- Offer alternatives to speaking. Some children may find it difficult to articulate how they are feeling. Play-based activities such as ‘messy play’ (eg; slime, playdough, water-play) and art tasks (eg; drawing and painting) may help children express themselves and process how they are feeling. If you have any concerns, schedule a telephone or Zoom call with a psychologist at Quirky Kid.
- Keep routines in place. Routines are essential for children to grow and develop typically. In the event of enforced changes to school and work routines, implement an adapted daily routine within your household (i.e. regular self-care, chores, homework). Include fun and stimulating activities, as permitted by health regulations. Some ideas include: baking, family games and outdoor play. Frame changes to routine in a positive way.
- Recognise and manage your own feelings. Children are highly attuned to the responses and feelings of adults around them. Remain calm when speaking to your children and others about the virus, and model calm behaviour in implementing prevention efforts (including hygiene practices or other changes to routine). Ensure you identify any signs of trauma.
- Find out what information your child already knows. For school aged children, gently ask what they have heard about the Coronavirus. Offer them an opportunity to discuss any concerns, and calmly correct any misconceptions they may have. To avoid unnecessary anxiety in young children, you may not wish to raise the topic with them directly. Instead, listen carefully for any worries they may raise, or references they make to the virus. Offer reassurance and calmly correct any false beliefs.
- Provide children with the information they need to know.
Be honest and accurate in the information you provide and answer any questions they may have. Do not dismiss any questions or concerns they raise. Inform your children calmly and reassuringly about any changes to hygiene practices or school and home routines, this will help in managing children anxiety about Covid-19. and prevent children from gathering inaccurate information elsewhere.
- Make yourself available to spend quality time with your children. This helps to reinforce that they are safe and offers them ample opportunities to speak to you about how they are feeling.
- Limit exposure to media. Non- age-appropriate information may increase anxiety and confusion, especially in young children.
- Positively encourage hygiene practices. Prompt your children to engage in positive hygiene practices calmly and positively. Where possible, make it fun and enjoyable for your children (eg; timing hand washing routine to a popular song).
If you would like further advice about how to support in managing children anxiety about Covid-19, or you are concerned about how your child is coping, it may be helpful to seek some professional support. Quirky Kid has well-established telehealth options to allow us to continue to provide services for our clients. To schedule an appointment with a Quirky Kid Psychologist visit our website.
Quirky Kid has in place the following services to held Manage children anxiety about Covid-19:
- Our Social and Emotional Groups are available online. We are now offering $150 off our terms programs when you register online.
- We’ll soon open registrations for a regula casual 30-minutes group support sessions for children and parents support sessions delivered online by our psychologists. Register to our mail list for more information.
Please note: As the information and advice about COVID-19 are rapidly changing, some information contained in the article above may no longer be current.
Australian Psychological Society. (2020). Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety. (Retrieval date: 16th March 2020).
National Association of School Psychologists. (2020). Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource.
(Retrieval date: 16th March 2020).