Let’s face it. Most of us are experiencing at least some level of anxiety related to the Coronavirus. We are currently living in a space of uncertainty surrounding our health, employment statuses, social distancing, and freedom. It would be abnormal if we weren’t experiencing at least some level of anxiety during the process. Nonetheless, in addition to having to deal with our own anxious thoughts, many of us have the challenge of having children who are modeling after our behaviors as well.
It’s difficult to wrap our own heads around the anxiety of the Coronavirus, especially since there is still so little that is known about the virus. But for many of us, we are expected to do so while also supporting our children.
It’s hard to manage the anxiety ourselves, let alone, prepare our children For it.
Here are a few tips that will help.
Follow their cues. Often, children will let you know if they are concerned about something. It might be tempting to avoid discussing such topics in front of your children, but that often feeds their anxiety as opposed to reduces it. But be careful; being too forward with discussing anxiety related to the pandemic might introduce anxious feelings that weren’t already there. Therefore, it is important to monitor your child’s behavior and respond accordingly to their cues. If they don’t let you know with their words that they are feeling anxious, monitor their behavior instead.
Some symptoms to look out for include:
~ trouble concentrating
~ muscle tension
~ trouble sleeping (insomnia)
Monitor what they watch on television and social media. Kids are like sponges. They absorb the information that they are surrounded by. If they are being exposed to information that is either inaccurate, or too intense for them to handle, they will be influenced by it. At this time, it is even more important that you protect them from the information that they are consuming. With the social distancing that is being opposed upon them, this time is even more critical for them as they have more opportunities to get their hands on things that are not good for them. Let’s be active and proactive in monitoring what our children are watching as a means of protecting them from unnecessary stress.
Keep their routines as much as possible. Routine were put in place for a reason, to keep things consistent and predictable. Children rely on these routines as much as adults do. Depending upon the impact that the coronavirus has for your household, their routines could be the only thing that your child has that remains the same. Don’t deprive them of the opportunity to have some feelings of normalcy based off of what you can control. Instead, try to to do all that you can to keep life moving as consistently as possible.
Model resiliency. What we as parents do, is still the best teacher for a child. If They see us getting anxious and worried, rest assured that they will too. Try to have conversations that are of a serious nature regarding the coronavirus, outside of the reach of your children. If the conversation about coronavirus occurs between you and your child, try to discuss the information utilizing age-appropriate facts. If there are concerns pertaining to finances, employment, and/or health, give them a safe space to discuss their concerns and validate their feelings. Let them know that you are doing all that you can to address the situation. (We know that this is hard, but it’s important to understand that children are children and don’t need to be burdened with adult concerns). Do what you can to validate their concerns while also trying to tap into Community Resources to help you. Here are a few:
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Center for Disease Control
There is nothing like watching your child suffer. The truth is, most children will be affected by the thoughts that arise related to the uncertainty of the coronavirus, even if they are not old enough to understand illness. If you would like help in managing this anxiety in your children,