Kids and COVID-19: Easing Anxiety for Children Stuck at Home
This blog was originally published on April 10th. Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.
With school closures, event cancellations, and changes to your work schedule, the COVID-19 pandemic presents a lot of challenges for kids as well as adults. While everyone is at home during self-isolation, you may notice your children showing signs of anxiety. This could include disrupted sleep, changes in mood, or other signs that they’re feeling stressed. Consider these four key ways you can help your child during this unusual time.
Be a Calming Presence
It’s normal to be anxious right now. These are unprecedented times, and stress is an unavoidable factor right now. Focus on taking things one day at a time, concentrating on what you can do right now rather than fixating on the unknown. Work on finding ways to work through your stress, such as going for a walk or run, setting a calming morning routine with your tea or coffee, or planning regular times to talk to your friends or family.
Your child will see you handling stress in a healthy way and will take that to heart. You don’t have to be a supermom or superdad who is unfazed by recent events. You can be a stabilizing presence by being mindful and finding positive coping mechanisms.
Explain What’s Going On
Many things about your child’s life have been turned upside down, so it’s important to give them some understanding of what’s going on. Use simple, fact-driven language to explain why everyone’s home and how germs spread. Answer their questions without exaggerating or overreacting.
Stick to a Routine
One way to give your child reassurance and support is by keeping a routine. Don’t feel pressured to perfectly match their school schedule, particularly if you’re working from home. But do have a standard time for meals, bedtime, play time, etc. This structure will provide both of you with something to lean on if you are feeling anxious or restless.
Plan Fun Activities
Being at home gives you the opportunity for more flexibility and spontaneity, even within your daily routine. Take the opportunity to teach them how to make their favorite breakfast in the morning, or go on a scavenger hunt in the backyard. Plan some time each day for exploration or art projects — anything that they wouldn’t usually get to do with you on a normal weekday. This will provide some much needed lighthearted fun for both of you and also help to break up a day spent at home.
Following these tips can help bring some peace to a chaotic time. If you have questions about other ways to help your child, feel free to talk to one of our pediatric specialists at CHI St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network. We now offer virtual visits, giving you access to expert medical care in the comfort and safety of your own home.