As a first time mum having to isolate for a period of 4 weeks, I know just how stressful it can be to deal with children indoors under completely different circumstances to usual. Children of all ages may struggle with the adjustment and that could manifest as anxiety. It is difficult, even for adults, to describe feelings of anxiety and managing them could be even harder. I wanted to share my top 5 tips to help your children with anxiety during this time. Please remember this is just a guide and different things work for different families!
How to manage anxiety in children during coronavirus
- Structure: With nurseries and schools being closed, it may be difficult to keep to routine. Children thrive off routine as it gives them a sense of stability and security. Try and create your own flexible ROUTINE with a degree of consistency. Most importantly, slow down and set goals that are appropriate for your family environment.
- Talk: Keep the floor open for discussion. Explain what’s going on at THEIR LEVEL and be as open and honest as possible. Tell your child as much as you think they need to know without worrying them further. Check in and ask about their feelings. Reassure your child that it is okay to be worried, anxious or scared. Talk about ways to help your child feel calm. Reflect on the situation and talk about the future.
- Exercise: Family exercise time is a positive bonding experience. Give your child the option to decide what activity they would like to do. Exercise is also a great way to expel energy that could otherwise be spent worrying. Fresh air lifts our mood and helps clear our minds.
- Choice: As much as children need routine, they also desire options. Positive play ideas include painting, reading and cooking. Get them involved in meal times and deciding what to cook and eat.
- Sleep: Poor sleep can increase anxiety. Children benefit from positive sleep habits including winding down before bedtime with a similar routine each night. This could include a bath and bedtime story. Try and stick to their usual bedtime and wake up times so that they are obtaining a sufficient amount of sleep.
- Positivity: Try and keep the environment at home as positive as possible and model calmness. If you’re struggling as a parent, please seek help and use the pointers above for yourself. Children feed off an environment and can sense heightened emotions. Try and stay connected and social by scheduling in calls with family members or friends.
If you like what you’ve read here please head over to my Instagram page @thechildrensmedic where I share guidance for parents on all health topics from the point of view of a NHS Paediatrician and first time mum in training!!! Thank you.