Published on August 17, 2020
It is not only adults concerned about Coronavirus and the uncertainty of the pandemic. The effects on the upheaval to routines and normal life; and the ongoing rhetoric pertaining to COVID’s health, social, and economic impact will undoubtedly affect children too.
Seeing a global pandemic unfold and hearing parents and trusted adults expressing alarm or worry can be difficult for some children. This anxiety can play out through noticeable changes in children’s behaviour and health. Parents and adults need to understand and recognise the signs, so they provide support and help.
Common behaviours and health concerns parents may notice:
- increasing worry and stress.
- acting out or holding feelings inside.
- expressing fear in the form of anger or arguments.
- sleeping problems.
- change in eating habits, which can lead to stomach aches and headaches.
- children could be quick to tear.
Children will be hearing and absorbing information and news from their friends, the media, and through their observations of the people around them. The best support parents can provide is to help their children feel safe, a sense of belonging and feelings of control.
There are four strategies parents can use to create calm and build resilience:
Parents should try to make sure they don’t unnecessarily add to their child’s anxiety or concern. Find ways to help children cope healthily – play games, be active, draw, listen to calming music.
Be aware of your day-to-day conversations with other adults and choose your words carefully when children are around.
Create a warm, loving environment – use calm voices and share kind words.
Give children some control
Parents can support children to feel a sense of control in their life by giving them choices. Simple things like choosing their clothing, chores, or even allowing them to pick what the family will have for dinner can support this notion.
Commit to spending time together as a family and encourage children to chat with friends and family (virtually, if distance is a problem).
Try something new and different to support your child grow and to find new interests – take up a new hobby together or explore somewhere new in the region.
While many aspects of life feel unusual and chaotic to some extent – there are things parents can do keep everyone on a schedule. Maintain a regular bedtime schedule and turn off devices one hour before going to bed – this can successful in older children too. In younger children, work with your child to create a daily schedule and talk about upcoming commitments and activities.
Reference: Principal’s Digest Volume 26 Number 41. Acknowledgement: Steve O’Brien, Psy.D., Anxiety in Children During the Covid-19 Crisis: Targeted Strategies to Create Calm and Build Resilience