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:
We’ll soon open registrations for a regular 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.
References 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).
The 10th episode of the Impressive gives you answers to the questions that came from one of the listeners about how to empower your children. Just because they are still young, who are in the stage of discovering themselves and exploring the world, doesn’t mean that they can’t participate and give their insights on issues around them. Actually, they can if you allow and courage them to do so. In this episode, Doctor Kimberley will give you tips on parenting approaches that would motivate your children to better themselves and be part of something good.
Listen up as we explore:
How to inspire young people to make a difference in their school community
Why it’s important for school leaders to survey students to gain their perspectives
What types of activities can parents and children do to feel empowered
Impressive is a weekly podcast that sheds new light on the world of parenting. Join host, Dr Kimberley O’Brien PhD, as she delves into real-life parenting issues with CEOs, global ex-pats, entrepreneurs, celebrities, travellers and other hand-picked parents.
The holidays are nearly upon us and that’s great fun!
We offer group workshops designed to help children make and manage friendships, communicate better, overcome anxiety and perform at their best.
Our workshops have been creatively developed by Dr. Kimberley O’Brien and the Quirky Kid team over 16 years in the Child and Family field. We strive for innovation (winning local and international awards in Innovation) to make sure our programs are inspiring, practical and effective for small groups in the clinic setting or demonstrative for large audiences in an auditorium. Quirky Kid workshops draw on our micro-skills in working with children combined with current research and practices in Australia, the USA and UK.
The Best of Friends
The Best of Friends® program gives children the knowledge, skills and confidence to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, show empathy for others, develop and maintain friendships and make good decisions.
The Why Worry workshop helps anxious children aged 5 to 13 years to manage their own symptoms of stress and worry at home & school. Participants learn to identify personal triggers for anxiety and practice coping strategies to reduce any impact on the individual or family. By exploring solutions through play-based activities, participants learn to understand and appreciate anxiety in a fun, non-threatening setting.
Register for Why Worry? workshop this school holidays!
This program is designed for children and young people aged 10 to 15 years who are (or want to be) involved in sports, music, performance or academics in a competitive way. Power Up! gives children the power to build self-confidence; cope with the pressures of competition; overcome self-doubt and negative self-talk; set goals and make plans to achieve them; maximise performance in any chosen field.
Find a Power Up! workshop near you this school holidays!
How to Register
Sessions for all of these workshops are available in our Sydney and Wollongong clinics. Places are limited so get in quick!
Stay in the loop! Join our mailing list to be notified of the dates of the upcoming workshops.
Natural disasters can be very traumatic for children and adults, alike. Often they happen suddenly, with little time to react, and can leave behind a great deal of destruction to land, homes, and people’s lives.
Following disasters such as the recent floods in Queensland and Victoria, parents are often left wondering how best to address these traumatic natural disasters events with their children.
The type and amount of information you provide your child after a natural disasters is dependent on their age. However, simple explanations that reassure children that they are safe and let them know that you are there caring for them will help.
Tips for Parents
Try to keep routines. If they have been disrupted, help re- establish routines as soon as possible, as these are essential for children to grow and develop typically.
Limit exposure to the media, and adult conversation about the natural disaster. Children are very much influenced by the responses and feelings of parents and other adults. Seek support for yourself of friends and colleagues
Answer any questions that your child may have about natural disasters. Be honest without giving a lot of detail.
Talk about the events related to the natural disasters if your child brings it up, don’t try to change the subject. It’s important to correct any ‘false’ ideas young children may have.
Give children a chance to discuss their experiences of the natural disaster, and to share their fears. This will assist them in their ability to move on.
Be available and reassuring.
Help children gain a sense of self control by allowing them to make choices, that are age appropriate.
It can take weeks, months, sometimes years, for children to fully recover from the stress they may have experienced during a natural disaster. Each child is different. The more consistent children’s daily routines are and remain after a disaster, the better they will be able to adjust and move forward.
Recognising stress in children after a Natural Disasters
going backwards in their development, e.g. wetting the bed, clinging and behaviour problems.
School aged children
not wanting to go to school,
physical symptoms, e.g. headaches or tummy aches.
React aggressive under stress.
If you notice that your child’s reaction to stress or trauma due to a natural disaster is not lessening over time, or is becoming worse, it may be beneficial to seek some professional advice. For more information on how the Quirky Kid Clinic can help, or to schedule an appointment please contact us.
Information for this fact sheet was taken from an interview with Child Psychologist Kimberley O’Brien, the Raising Children Network website and the following article.
Foulks, D. (2005). Nurturing Children After Natural Disasters. A Booklet for Child Care Providers, National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. Arlington, Virginia, 1-16.
Kimberley O’Brien, our principal child psychologist, discussed starting the new school year with Daily Telegraph reporter, Mercedes Maguire. You can find useful, practical and informative advice about parenting by visiting our resources page, – or discussing it on our forum.
To view the full article please visit the Daily Telegraph online.
If you have a story and would like to discuss it with us, please contact us to schedule a time. Kimberley O’Brien enjoys sharing the best of her therapeutic moments with the media. View our media appearances to-date. Visit our website for more information about Quirky Kid Clinic and Quirky Kid Team.