10 Tips to Help Your Child Manage Anxiety During the Next Normal
Help your children cultivate their own set of go-to, anxiety-reducing strategies.
Anxiety can be contagious. Chances are that if you’re worried about the coronavirus and shifting circumstances due to the pandemic, your children are, too!
The point isn’t to eliminate anxiety altogether – that would be impossible! Instead, help your children to cultivate their own set of go-to, anxiety-reducing strategies. Different strategies work for different kids. Experiment with the following 10 tips to see what will work for yours.
- Reassure your child that you and other adults, such as care providers and health officials, are doing all they can to prevent the spread of infection and keep people safe.
- Share accurate, age-appropriate information about the virus and your state’s plans to re-open. This might include information about what your family is doing to reduce the chance of illness, what household rules or routines may change in the near future, or how the world (and places like camp or school) may still not seem “normal” for a while, even as restrictions loosen.
- Let your child ask questions and discuss concerns openly. Some children may feel anxious about returning to camp, daycare, or other public settings as the economy begins to re-open. Others may worry about parents or loved ones returning to work. Acknowledge your child’s anxiety and use accurate, age-appropriate information to reframe their concerns. Offer enough information to help your child understand, without additional details that may contribute to his or her fears.
- Ask “What do you think would help you right now?” This opportunity for introspection is a great way for your child to develop self-awareness and build resilience.
- Allow your child to make controlled and safe decisions, when possible. Would you like cereal or eggs for breakfast? Do you want to take a shower now or in an hour? Do you want to do a puzzle or draw a picture next?
- Offer extra affection during times of worry. This assumes, of course, that you have not recently been in touch with someone exposed to the coronavirus or that you yourself are not quarantined.
- Model your own self-regulation strategies. Do you meditate, exercise, or get creative when you’re feeling anxious? Listen to music, dance, write in your journal, or rearrange your sock drawer? Show your child some of the strategies you use when you are worried, anxious, or stressed.
- Breathe together. “Square breathing” is a mind-body technique that can help calm or relax your child when s/he is feeling anxious. Breathe in to a count of four, hold for a count of four, breathe out to a count of four, and hold for a count of four. Repeat three to five times or until your child is feeling better.
- Limit television viewing, social media, or news access that may be upsetting to your child. Also, be aware of conversations you’re having with other adults that your children may overhear.
- Talk to your doctor. If your child’s anxiety becomes severe, or your child seems increasingly depressed, contact your doctor, therapist, or a qualified health professional to find out if there are other options that may help.
Torchlight does not provide medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice because of something you read on Torchlight. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911.
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