Managing Children's Fears About Coronavirus

With all of the recent and abrupt changes due to the concerns of the spread of COVID-19, many children are experiencing increased fear and anxiety. MCMC’s Behavioral Health provider Stephanie Becker, LCSW, says children’s worries and fears should be of great concern. She offers these tips for parents and families to help children through this extraordinary time:

  1. Allow children space to discuss, process, and understand their fears. Setup a time for family discussion once a day. Leave a “Worry Pad” out for kids to write down or draw their worries to be discussed. This gives kids permission to leave their worries there until they can be discussed together.
  2. Reduce exposure to ongoing, repetitive messages about the current health crisis. This means limiting exposure to TV news, talk radio and internet, and being mindful of the conversations you have in front of your kids.
  3. Help kids to find ways to improve empowerment and control over their fears while making a difference, such as:
    • Converting fears into thoughts about creating healthier living.
    • Honoring social distancing, but helping to check in on neighbors and friends’ needs.
    • Honoring social distancing, but finding ways to volunteer and help others.
    • Finding ways to help out and improve the household through family projects and cleaning to improve quality of living.
  4. Create a calendar together with kids to maintain daily routines and structure. This also helps to decrease time children have to place into worries and fears. Daily activities may include ongoing academic time, family time, reading time together, skills-building learning activities, etc.
  5. Plan activities and outdoor adventures for the whole family to enjoy. Daily walks can help decrease stress while improving mental clarity.
  6. Remember social distancing does not mean isolation. Keep social contacts by phone or video chat.
  7. Keep a level of improved self-care for yourself and your family. Taking good care of yourself will help model this behavior for your children, too.
  8. Monitor kids for symptoms of depression such as increased sadness, lack of motivation and not following daily routines. If you have concerns, please contact your child’s physician.

Lastly, find ways for your family to advocate for the community by safely helping support quarantined neighbors with household and animal care needs. This can tremendously increase your children’s self-worth and value. They will be grateful for the positive experience and contributions once things return back to their previous daily activities.

By Stephanie Becker, LCSW