COVID-19 Stress and Kids: 3 Ways to Empower Your Children to Cope With Coronavirus Worries
The unknowns surrounding coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) can be anxiety-producing in both adults and children alike. During these times of uncertainty, you play an important role as a parent, caregiver and support system for your kids. Here are 3 ways you can help your kids cope with their worries.
1. Be intentional in setting aside time to listen to your children’s thoughts and concerns.
Ask your kids how they’re feeling, and really listen when they speak. As parents, it’s hard to see our kids struggling, and we get the urge to make them feel better right away – but just listen first. Then, provide validating statements that show your kids that how they’re feeling makes sense and that other people are feeling this way, too.
2. Be mindful of your children’s news and social media intake.
If your family typically lets the news run in the background as you go about your day, take this time to set limits and choose specific times to watch the news. Be mindful of what exactly your children watch.
Additionally, be mindful of how you talk about the news with your children. It’s not just what we say that matters, but how we say it. If you’re carrying a lot of anxiety, be careful of how it comes through as you speak and identify ways to manage that.
3. Empower your kids to help others by teaching them about social distancing and healthy habits.
Framing social distancing as something your kids can do to help others empowers them to feel more in control of the situation. In terms of healthy habit behaviors like coughing in your elbow and handwashing, model them for your kids. Provide attention and praise when they practice those behaviors. For some of the more difficult habits – like avoiding touching your face – try a fun reinforcement system. Setting a timer for a very short time and seeing how long kids can go without touching their face is a way to make practicing healthy habits fun.
About the Author
Jenna Mendelson, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist with LeBauer Behavioral Medicine at Oak Ridge and Summerfield Village.