Helping Kids with Anxiety in Uncertain Times: COVID-19 Coping Series

Helping Kids Deal with Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Challenging times equate to anxious feelings for both children and adults. We know that the way a child reacts and the signs of distress they display can vary, depending upon the child’s age, previous experiences, and how the child typically copes with stress. Kids also are impacted by how adults around them respond to stressful situations.

Our own reactions to the current situation, the conversations we have within earshot of our children and the ways we discuss it with them will also influence how they cope. 

With that in mind, let's take a look at what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends when it comes to talking to children about COVID-19:
  • Simple reassurance. Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
  • Give them control. It's also a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help – washing their hands often, coughing into a tissue or their sleeves, and getting enough sleep. (See the infographic we shared about this, HERE.)
  • Watch for signs of anxiety. Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going and try to stick to your normal routines.
  • Monitor their media. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc. For older children, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.
  • Be a good role model. COVID-19 doesn't discriminate and neither should we. While COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China, it doesn't mean that having Asian ancestry – or any other ancestry – makes someone more susceptible to the virus or more contagious. Stigma and discrimination hurt everyone by creating fear or anger towards others. When you show empathy and support to those who are ill, your children will too.

Know the Facts
The unknowns and misinformation can create more fear and panic than is necessary. As with everything, get valid and reliable facts, as well as expert help.
Some great places to start are: 
2. Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus -

3. A Comic for Kids Exploring Coronavirus - NPR

4. Parent/Caregiver Guide on Coronavirus - National Child Traumatic Stress Center

5. 5 Ways Kids Can Help Slow the Spread - an Infographic from LMAS District Health Dept.
Keep Yourself Calm 
One thing is for certain: If you'd like to help reduce the fears and worries of children, one of the best ways to accomplish that is to remain calm yourself. Easier said than done, you say? That may be true, until you add some new skills to your toolbox. We'll be devoting a whole post to keeping yourself calm and will link it here, when it's live.
While this pandemic is an unprecedented situation for all of us, we can help kids cope with the anxiety that it causes, in supportive and meaningful ways. 

Books That Can Help

What to Do When You Worry Too Much
Anxious Ninja
A Little Spot of Anxiety
What to Do When Fear Interferes
Mindful Bea and the Worry Tree
Mindfulness for Kids Who Worry
Melt Anxiety and Relax - Card Game
Outsmarting Worried (for Older Kids)

COVID-19 and Coping: The Series

Here is where we'll share links to the latest posts, as they become available. You may wish to bookmark this page, as the list will grow over time, in response to our reader's needs:

Kids Questions: Answering Kids Questions in Uncertain Times

Sanity Savers for Parents: How to Keep Your Sanity During Challenging Times

Fostering Hope: Keeping Hope Alive During Challenging Times

Connection: Keeping in Touch with Grandparents When You Can't Be Together

Now, It's Your Turn!

If you know of a great resource that help parent help their kids with anxiety, be sure to share it in our comments below!

Be well,

Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD, is  the founder of Kidlutions and co-author of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids, co-creator of BLOOM Brainsmarts, and creator of The Joyful Parent. She is the author of numerous workbooks and resources to help from the preschool through the teen years. 

Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter and Facebook! She'd love to see your smiling face there! Affiliate links may be used in this post. Please see our full disclaimer, located at the top of our page for more information.


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