Support Children's Anxiety
Click here to see advice from the British Psychological Society
For children who are confused about Coronavirus
For children who are worried about Coronavirus
Supporting children who are worried about Coronavirus
It is completely normal for children to worry in this kind of situation. This is a new situation for many of them, and unpredictability can be anxiety-inducing. There are several ways we can work together to help our children deal with these worries they may be experiencing.
Limit News consumption
Even when it seems like they aren't listening, our children pick up on what they hear on the TV or radio. The tone of newscasters' voices may be enough to set off their worry, and words like 'pandemic' and 'outbreak' can be fear-inducing for children. Try to watch or listen to the news after your children have gone to bed or opt for reading articles.
Stick to routines
Children thrive with boundaries and routines. Stick to an as-normal-as-possible routine while children are out of school. Many children are used to having a schedule in their classrooms, so writing your daily schedule on a whiteboard or paper and reviewing it in the morning can help them feel ready for the day.
Set daily goals
Set small daily goals and track progress so children can work toward something important to them. Make sure the goals are within their controls. Track progress on a goal chart wo they can have a visual reminder of the progrss they are making
Be open and honest
Children may have questions about the Coronavirus and it is perfectly ok to answer them. Let them share what they have heard with you and provide clarification or corrections if they have misinformation. Clear, concise answers from trusted adults can help prevent thoughts from spiraling.
Practice controlled breathing
If your child is showing signs of worry, take a moment to practice controlled breathing. You can simply count breaths for them:
INHALE 1,2,3,4,5, HOLD 1,2,3,4,5 EXHALE 1,2,3,4,5
Help them slow their breathing and really exhale all of the air to calm their bodies and minds. Blow out slowly and completely.
Or they can use this simple tracing guide.
Use grounding techniques
Grounding techniques help children re-orient to the present moment when the worries are too big. These techniques help children connect with their current environment in the here and now when their minds are imagining potential future scenarios. Ask your child to name:
5 things they see
4 things they hear
3 things they can touch
2 things they smell, and
1 thing they taste.
Or ask your child to name something in your immediate environment that is each colour of the rainbow.
Have your child imagine what the worry might look like if it were a real thing. Maybe it looks like a dragon, monster, giant. They can then draw a picture and write a story about themselves as a superhero who defeats the worry.
It's OK to acknowledge
It's completely ok to acknowledge your children's worries rather than ignoring them. Acknowledging worries won't solidify them but will help your child understand that worry is a protective feeling that alerts us to potential danger. It's natural to want to reassure our children, we want them to feel safe and calm. Reassure when needed but avoid offering it too frequently as this can prevent children from developing their own positive self talk. Practice things they can say to themselves when they are feeling worried like "I can control my breathing" or "my family is taking care of me".