A father playing basketball with his son outside during COVID-19.
Healthy Living

COVID-19 Anxiety and Kids: How to Help Them Cope

Aug 21 2020

It has been many months of uncertainty and changes now as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety and stress are emotions being experienced by both adults and children right now.

Even if a child isn’t old enough to understand this virus, they are able to realize that their typical routine has been disrupted. And older kids who can understand what’s going on might be feeling scared and overwhelmed at times.

As your child adapts to the COVID-19 crisis, there are ways you as a parent can help them cope.

Talk through emotions

If nothing else, always be available to talk to your child. Make sure to answer any questions they have and listen to their concerns. This is so important.

Your child may have read a concerning article about COVID-19 online. Your family may know someone who is currently fighting the virus. Additionally, certain buzzwords like “quarantine” and “social distancing” may be hard for your child to understand. When talking, always remain calm, give honest responses and present information in age-appropriate ways.

If your child is missing their friends or family members, set up weekly video chats with these people to help them stay connected.

Practice preventive actions as a family

If your child is anxious about contracting COVID-19, help them feel safe by showing them the preventive actions your family is taking.

Have everyone wash their hands regularly throughout the day. Be sure everyone in your family over the age of two is wearing a face mask while out in public. Try to stay home as much as possible. And while at home, practice habits that will help boost your immune systems, such as eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep.

Unplug from the news

Kids, just like adults, can become overwhelmed if they are absorbing nonstop news coverage. Be mindful to not have the TV on in the background throughout the day. Also, monitor the amount of time your kids are spending online during the pandemic.

A routine is key

This virus has disrupted daily life for kids. Most of them are no longer seeing their friends every day at school. Some of their after-school activities have been cancelled. They are also spending more time at home than ever before. The new school year starting, but there is still lots of uncertainty.

Even though a routine might look different at this time, it’s still important to stick to one. Schedule specific times for schoolwork and chores. Also, have play time as well as quiet time. Try to have your kids go to bed at the same time each day too. While a rigid schedule isn’t necessary, your kids will do much better with some sort of routine.

Try new home activities

Kids love to say they are bored while hanging around at home. Take this as an opportunity to get creative and try new things as a family.

Order some new board games and learn how to play them. Plan a weekly family movie night. There are many crafts and home science experiments you can find instructions for online. Also consider learning a skill, like a new language or how to play a musical instrument. You can even start a family garden in your back yard.

Get active together

Exercise is great for mental health for both kids and adults. It also helps boost your immune system.

If you are able to social distance, go play at the local park or walk around your neighborhood. If you need to stay home, turn up the music and have a dance party. You can also set up an obstacle course in the back yard. Get creative as a family and think of other ways to burn off extra energy.

Give back to others

Assisting those in your community who are struggling during this pandemic is a great way to keep your kids busy and help them feel better. Have them write notes or draw pictures for people at your local nursing home. Take time to help your child go through their room and find items to donate. Planning a drive-by surprise party to celebrate a special occasion is a way you can give back to friends and family, too.

Don’t forget, this is a time to have fun! While this pandemic is serious, your children should still feel safe at home and be enjoying this extra time with family. If you are becoming worried about your child’s mental health during this time, reach out to a behavioral health professional.

Stay updated on what Bon Secours is doing related to COVID-19.  

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