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Anxiety is a completely normal human response to threat and many of us are feeling overwhelmed by the current crisis. The uncertainty and unpredictability surrounding COVID-19 makes it particularly challenging for us to manage emotionally, and thus learning to sit with this uncertainty and focus on what is in our control, versus what isn’t in our control, can be a helpful way for promoting wellbeing for us and for our families.
Here are some resources about coping, anxiety management and self-care:
Kids worry more when they are kept in the dark, so it’s important that we speak to our children in a way to reassure them, and help them understand what they can do to minimise the impact of this epidemic.
Remain calm and reassuring
Children will react to and follow your verbal and non-verbal reactions, and what you say and do about COVID-19 can either increase or decrease their anxiety.
Make yourself available
Children may need extra attention from you during this time and knowing that you are present and happy to discuss their concerns when needed, will be calming in itself.
Find out what your child knows
It’s a good idea to start by asking your child what she knows about the virus and whether she has any questions. For example, ‘On the news today, they were talking about coronavirus. Were people at school talking about that? What were they saying?’
Explain COVID-19 in a way your child can understand
Tune into your child’s feelings and worries
Children may experience a range of feelings and may have various specific worries about COVID-19. They may be worried about getting sick, family members getting sick, missing out on school, family coping, etc.
Openly discuss these feelings and worries and let your child know that these experiences are normal. It might reassure your child if you share your own feelings and what you’re doing to cope with them.
Monitor TV viewing and social media
Keeping your child informed is important, however it is important to provide accurate, age-appropriate information as opposed to the all-too-common fear-provoking media reports that are out there. Try to set limits around TV and social media use and engage children other enjoyable activities instead.
Focus on what your child can do
Give your child a sense of control by identifying what they can practically do to keep themselves and others safe (e.g., hand hygiene practices, social distancing, etc). Identify together what else the family can do to cope, for example, keeping active, practicing some breathing or relaxation, engaging in enjoyable activities at home, etc.
Identify any ‘bigger’ worries out of the child’s control and assure your child that this is a worry for the adults to manage, not the child (e.g., parents, doctors, etc).
Maintain as much routine as possible
Routine can create a sense of safety and predictability for your child, particularly in times of stress and uncertainty. Whilst we know that this might be difficult in light of social distancing, it can help to create some predictability within a new, home-based routine, where possible.
The CDC (Centre for disease control) provides a good general guide around managing stress and coping (as this is a US based website their helplines cannot be used from Australia).
Some useful resources include:
If you don’t feel that you or a family member is safe, then go immediately to the local emergency department or call 000.
We are worried about the economic impacts COVID-19 will have on families too. We have put together a list of resources to consider including information on:
Click here to download a guide to: Financial resources for families to explore during COVID-19 pandemic