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Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Blog

Tips for helping anxious kids during the pandemic

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
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By:  DBP team

We’re continuing our series of blog posts regarding the coronavirus and helpful tips for dealing with your own anxieties as a caregiver as well as your children’s anxiety. By learning to deal with your anxiety in a healthy way, you can create a more secure environment for your children.

The Child Mind Institute has created articles for both “Anxiety and Coping With the Coronavirus” and “Tips for Calming Anxious Kids.”

1. Tolerating uncertainty

Model healthy ways for coping with anxiety and uncertainty for your children. Avoid showing them the negative methods of coping such as crying in fear and “catastrophic thinking.” That will teach them that is the way to cope and manage their anxieties now.

2. How to stay calm

  1. Be smart about what you are reading

It is important to stay informed however there can be a point where it is an information overload and can become unhelpful. Try to limit the number of articles you read or for how long you will read about the virus.

  1. Focus on what you’re doing right now

Try to stay focused in the present instead of thinking about future scenarios. Practice mindfulness either alone or with your children.

  1. Rely on routines

Exercise, regular meals, and sleep are vital to maintaining our moods – creating new routines can be difficult but once you start it, it can help to manage those anxieties and increase productivity.

  1. Checking in with kids

Anxiety can manifest itself in different ways in children:

  1. Reassurance seeking
  2. Reluctance to separate from parents
  3. Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
  4. Moodiness and irritability
  5. Tantrums and meltdowns trouble sleeping
  1. Helping anxious kids
    1. Create a structure for their day
    2. Avoid giving too much reassurance
    3. Model calm yourself
    4. Look for the positive

These strategies can also be combined with tips for calming anxious kids.

  1. The gasp and distract
  2. The silly song
  3. The indirect compliment
  4. The damsel in distress
  5. The injury
  6. A snack
  7. Making a snack
  8. Go outside
  9. Pretend to buy their love
  10. Break glass (only in the case of emergency)

The Child Mind Institute has numerous articles and resources for helping families and educators. Here are the links to the two articles by the Child Mind Institute which include more details on the topics we covered as well as additional resources:

Anxiety and coping with coronavirus: https://childmind.org/article/anxiety-and-coping-with-coronavirus/

Tips for calming anxious kids: https://childmind.org/article/tips-calming-anxious-kids/

We would also like to thank The Autism Program at Boston Medical Center for sharing their autism resources with us to share with families!