Helping to Manage COVID-19 Distress and Anxiety in Children
The COVID-19 outbreak and its current development worldwide may cause many children to feel distress, worried and anxious. One way to help children cope during this time is to talk and have informational discussions.
Children may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Parents and other family members can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes their anxiety and/or fear.
The CDC has created tips and recommendations to help adults provide support and ways to assist in having conversations with children about COVID-19 anxiety.
Ways to support your child
Talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak.
Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand.
Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn from you how to cope with stress.
Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
Spending time with your child in meaningful activities, reading together, exercising, playing board games.
Tips for talking to children
Remain calm. Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
Reassure children that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
Make yourself available to listen and to talk. Let children know they can come to you when they have questions.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online. Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
Provide information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child. Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.