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Managing Your Child’s Anxiety During COVID-19

8 September 2020

COVID-19 has disrupted your child’s regular routine and comfort, and with schools closing and the country under lockdown, your child’s world just got a lot smaller. A new normal is a lot to take in, for everyone, but even more so for a child who is depending on their parents or caregivers for reassurance.

Little minds probably won’t fully comprehend what they are seeing and hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic, and this may make them fearful and anxious. This is how you can help ease their anxiety.

Talking to Your Child About COVID-19

It’s important to help your child to make sense of what’s happening. But while they need to be informed, you shouldn’t overload them with information that could lead to worry or anxiety. Help minimise their fear by sharing information with them in a way that’s easy for them to digest. Here are some guidelines:

Do:

  • Explain what COVID-19 is using age-appropriate vocabulary and addressing only the facts
  • Educate your children about the actions that can reduce the spread of infection, for example teaching them the importance of hand hygiene and social distancing
  • Discourage them from watching COVID-19-related news on TV and consuming excessive amounts of social media, as too much information may lead to anxiety
  • Speak about the positive or good news rather than focusing on the bad. For example, there are many documented cases of persons recovering from COVID-19. There are also many positive stories about people helping each other out during the crisis across the globe.

Don’t:

  • Go into detail about the danger of the virus. It is important to tell them about the seriousness of COVID-19, but be cautious with your choice of words and don’t incite fear.
  • Say negative things like ‘We hope that you survive’ or ‘We don’t know when this will end’. Children need stability and reassurance from an adult.
  • Talk about isolation, the national lockdown and quarantine as something bad. Instead, explain how social distancing keeps them and everyone else safe from germs that cause the virus.

How to Put Your Child at Ease

Stick to a Routine

While your child’s usual schedule may have been disrupted, creating new systems at home could help make things feel normal. For instance, as schools are closed, create a timetable for learning activities such as educational videos, and other activities such as baking, painting, drawing or reading. Set up virtual play dates for times they would ordinarily have spent with their friends.

Be a Role Model

Show them that although you may be going through a difficult time, it’s important to take care of yourself. Encourage them to eat healthily, exercise daily and regularly talk to friends and loved ones.

Give Them Healthy Distractions

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with COVID-19 updates. Give your child and yourself some relief with a constructive distraction. This could include cooking a meal together, playing a board game, doing crafts or watching a movie.

Listen to Your Child

A child needs an adult’s attention at the best of times and even more so in times of uncertainty. Remember to listen to them when they have questions and respond to their behaviour with patience and support. It’s also okay to admit when you don’t have all the answers, but try to find out and follow up so that you validate their feelings.

One of the most important things you need to do is to reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know that it’s okay for them to feel upset or worried, and allow them to share their feelings with you. Tell them how you deal with being anxious and what makes you feel better so that they can learn how to cope.

This article is published courtesy of CareWays.

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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