Keep CALM: Addressing Children’s Anxiety During COVID-19

Changes due to COVID-19 can lead to the development of increased anxiety for many children. Here are some tips for addressing these feelings with your children, if they are expressing any signs of anxiety during this time.

  • C – Compassion and Comfort

Expressing compassion and understanding for your child’s (and your own) anxiety during this understandably stressful time will help create an open environment in which your child can feel safe and comforted when sharing anxious feelings.

  • A – Actively Listen and Validate

Actively listen to your child’s concerns, and take them seriously. You can ask follow up questions to evaluate what your child knows about COVID-19, and assess if there are any misconceptions causing anxiety you can address. Validate your child’s feelings by acknowledging their anxiety, and conveying a sense of understanding.

  • L – Limit Screen TIme and Media Exposure

While it is important to stay informed, excessive exposure to news about the pandemic can increase fear and anxiety. For younger kids it may be best to talk to them about COVID-19 as opposed to exposing them to news shows that may have scary images. Older children who are interested in the news may benefit from watching it with parents who can help explain complicated information.

Additionally, while it is necessary to increase screen time to complete distance learning and maintain connections with those outside of the homes it can be helpful to be mindful of screen use during free time. A balance between digital and physical based creative activities can hellp.

  • M – Model Self Care and Maintain Normalcy

Model good practices for your child by conveying a sense of calm in yourself, demonstrating your own ability to tolerate anxiety, and practicing self-care. Self-care can include making time for yourself to participate in enjoyable activities, exercise, or meditate. Help your child develop their own self-care skills.

Maintaining a sense of normalcy by developing a routine that includes activities your child previously participated in can help build a sense of predictability and safety.