Kids are far more wise and attentive than we think. In times of unexpected changes and uncertainty, they may react the most various ways. It is our job, as parents and primary caregivers, to keep them reassured.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and the World Health Organization (the 2 places we go to for COVID-19 information) have great instructions on how to deal with kids’ anxiety.
Here are some of them:
1-Talk to the kids. But don’t push it.
Answer their questions in a way they understand, according to their age.
Use real facts from official sources, like the CDC and the WHO.
Only share information they can absorb, if they ask.
Do not share your fears or your anxiety. You are their reference.
Respect their emotions. People react in different ways.
Be positive while being careful. Keep following the safety recommendations.
Focus on the solutions, not the crisis: instead of talking about the number of people dying, talk about what you and your family have been doing to prevent the spread; instead of focusing on how dangerous it can be for the grandparents focus on how safe they are and how they are learning to use technology;
2-Avoid too much news.
For you and for the kids. Once you know what to do, you can do a quick round-up of the news, but looking at it all day may cause you to get more anxious with the new cases.
3-Routine and limits are great.
Specialists agree that some sense of normality helps. But you also have things to do, your emotions to deal with. And it is a roller coaster of emotions.
We have some realistic tips on how to work from home having the kids out of school. One of them is to find a routine that works for you. But a realistic one, that works for your family reality, because there is already too much pressure out there.
4-Make it as fun as possible, but don’t go crazy.
We can all use some fun right now, but you also don’t have to be obsessed with entertaining the kids all the time. Remember: you are not a TV show. We should all stay home as much as possible, so if you have the privilege of a backyard, now is the time to enjoy it more than ever! If you don’t have a backyard, don’t feel guilty about the unavoidable increase of screen hours.
5-Pay attention to kids’ behavior changes.
If the kids start acting very different from their usual behavior, talk to them about it and look for professional help if it doesn’t go away.
Always remember: this too shall pass!
If you or your kids start feeling very desperate, anxious, scared or on the edge, here is a list of hotlines you can call for help! Don’t hesitate!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Chat: online chat service
Hearing-impaired services at 1-800-799-4889
Talk: (877) 870-4673 (HOPE)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s
(SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline:
Text: TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)