Talking about Coronavirus & Anxiety

Supporting your child

You may have noticed that your child is showing signs of anxiety or worry at this time.

News about Coronavirus is difficult to avoid when we are all staying at home without the usual welcome distractions of school and extra-curricular activities.

My child is tearful and anxious - how can I help?

Parents and carers can talk to their children in an honest and calm way about what is happening in the world without overloading them with too much detail.

Children look to the adults in their life for comfort when they are worried and they take their lead about how to view things from them.

You are not expected to have all the answers, but your child will be reassured to know that they can come to you and that you will listen.

Talking to them early about their worries means their anxieties don’t build-up and feel ‘too big’ to deal with.

What can I say to start the conversation?

You can ask your child what they know about Coronavirus, if their friends have talked about it or if they have any questions.

You know your child best – you know the signs to look out for that they are in the mood to talk or not.

Your child will let you know when they have had enough information and so you can be guided by them and limit the amount of detail you give them.

Let them know it’s okay to feel scared or worried and reassure them that this will pass.

Talk about some practical things you can all do such as washing hands properly and when to do this.

Practical things to read and do

No matter how old your child or young person, we all like to have a routine to keep us feeling safe and secure; it is useful to try to maintain this during this period.

Being distracted can give your child a rest from worries – do something positive with your child – a puzzle, some painting, cooking or reading.

It is often easier to start a conversation when you are doing something else at the same time.

The British Psychological Society has published some helpful guidelines around talking about coronavirus with children and young people and illness in general, taking into account their developmental age and understanding.

You could read this Newsround article about coronavirus with your child. This is a source that your child will be familiar with and feel comfortable listening to.

It is important for a child to learn to express their thoughts and feelings, as this promotes their emotional health and paves the way towards emotional literacy and well-being as they mature.

The following two activities designed by one of our school workers will help you to have these conversations with your child whilst enjoying each other’s company and having fun. Download the Dice Game and Lego Challenge here and have a go with your child.

If you have a young child, you may find it useful to read Coronavirus - A book for Children by published by Nosy Crow.

You could also try working through the Time Capsule resource which has been made available for families to do together and allows your child to record their feelings and the things they are doing during the lockdown period.

How can I support my teenager?

Older children may have already read or seen a lot of information on social media or on-line and as a result, may be feeling overwhelmed.

It’s helpful to encourage them to acknowledge that they are finding things difficult and to reassure them that you understand how they are feeling.

Our young people need to realise that this is an exceptional time and that they should not judge themselves for any negative thoughts and feelings they may be experiencing.

Feeling connected is so important for young people and allows them to feel that they belong. Physical distancing and lockdown mean this need to ‘belong’ is not being met and can lead to feelings of doubt about ourselves and our relationships: we can tell them that it’s okay to feel this way and that these feelings will pass.

During times of stress, we tend to revert to coping mechanisms which may not be particularly healthy or useful: that is normal.

However, we can remind our young people that it’s good to be brave and acknowledge to others that we are feeling sad, alone, isolated or anxious. By putting into words how we are feeling, we allow ourselves to connect.

Having structure and familiar patterns in our life allow us to feel safe and know that our needs are being met. Without structure, we can feel lost and as a result, down or depressed. Young people need to be reassured that this is a moment in time which will pass and that they will be more resilient and better able to cope as a result.

Resources for young people

The Mental Health Charity Mind shares some excellent ideas for supporting young people's wellbeing at this time: click here to access their resources.

Mind has also produced a very helpful guide for young people on talking to friends and family about how they are feeling.

CAMHS - (Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services) - have curated a range of resources for all ages from various mental health providers which can be accessed here.

Meditation, yoga and breathing techniques all help to calm us when we are feeling anxious - visit our Mindfulness Resources webpage and give some of our suggestions a go.

Contact us

Remember - you won’t have all the answers – no one has – but it will help your child to know that you are there for them; this in itself will help to contain your child’s fears and anxieties.

If you are concerned that you are unable to calm your child’s worries, talk to us – we are here to help: email Catherine here.