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  • Annie McGunagle

    Tuesday's Child

    4 tips for managing your kids' coronavirus anxiety

    Here are some tips for how to best support your child when presented with worrisome information such as the coronavirus pandemic.


    The coronavirus can be scary for kids. Kids pick up on information and emotions from the adults around them, and some kids may become worried or anxious about this information. Here are some tips for how to best support your child when presented with worrisome information.

    Focus on what you can control
    In a society overwhelmed with news and information, worry around COVID-19 can make us feel helpless and out of control. It is hard to believe or find a way to gain some sense of action and control. 

    What we can focus on is what we can control: ourselves and those we care for. You can be an active participant in stopping the spread of illness and germs by washing your hands regularly and well and avoiding touching your face. Thorough hand washing is proven to reduce the spread of illness and germs. Read more science behind handwashing.

    Read evidenced-based material
    In a time of pandemic, we are quick to absorb all the information we can find. Unfortunately, not all information we find is rooted in factual and/or evidence-based information. To ease anxiety, it can be helpful to refer to sources that are objective and evidenced-based. Some sources include but are not limited to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Health

    These sources are frequently updated and reviewed by individuals whose roles are to ensure this information is accurate and updated. The CDC’s responsibility is to keep the public healthy and safe. Outlining the CDC’s role in health and safety for children will help your kids understand that there are professionals who are monitoring what is best for the public.

    Practice self-care
    Self-care is not only beneficial for getting our minds off of worry-provoking ideas or situations, but it also helps our overall well-being. Self-care looks different for each child; teaching your child to understand what they enjoy and seek out these activities is the first step to consistently practicing self-care. 

    Self-care can be physical, mental or emotional. 

    Ideas for physical self-care:

    • Eating healthy
    • Going for a walk, bike ride or scooter ride
    • Drinking lots of water
    • Sleep!
    • Stretching or yoga
    • Getting a hug
    • Taking an extra long bath
    • Playing with your pets
    • Dancing 
    • Playing a fun sport

    Ideas for mental self-care:

    • Being silly with a friend over video chat
    • Coloring or making art projects
    • Alone time
    • Playing a board game
    • Reading a book
    • Singing
    • Helping others
    • Being in nature

    Ideas for emotional self-care:

    • Make a list of things you’re thankful for
    • Telling a joke
    • Cuddling with your family and pets
    • Writing thank-you notes
    • Practice positive self-talk
    • Saying "I love you"
    • Talking about feelings and emotions

    Stock up on fun activities
    Since large activities are being canceled, having a stock-pile of fun home activities will help keep you and your child occupied. Some ideas to stock up on:

    • Save scraps of newspaper and paper for crafts
    • Save your boxes, strings, and other materials to make musical instruments
    • Create homemade Playdough using flour and water
    • Make a playlist of your family’s favorite songs for a dance marathon
    • Take pictures of your family treasures and create a virtual scrapbook
    • Gather dish soap and bubble wands to make homemade bubbles
    • Create a dress-up box
    • Write a story, or play to perform, or play charades

    Guest authored by Annie McGunagle, MSW, LCSW, and Leah Dunleavy, M.A., BCBA, OTR/L, OTD.

    If you’re noticing your child continues to express worry more than other children, reach out to a health care professional for further support. Eyas Landing offers social work services for children with worry. Check us out at eyaslanding.com

    Annie McGunagle

    Tuesday's Child

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