How to Talk to Your Child About the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a part of our lives for several years now. The information we have gotten through the news and medical professionals has been regularly changing and evolving. While COVID-19 continues to be a threat, especially for the older and more vulnerable, signs are pointing in a positive direction, and life is beginning to appear to be slowly getting back to normal. It can be hard to know how to act during this transition after such an unprecedented event. It can also be incredibly confusing for children who may have little memory of what life was like before the pandemic. It can be helpful to know how to talk to your children as we go through this process together.
Addressing Your Child's Concerns
It is normal for your child to have questions and concerns as life begins to go back to normal following the pandemic. Make sure that you listen to your child's concerns and don't discredit or try to minimize how they are feeling. It can be helpful to start by asking what they've heard about the current status of the pandemic so far. This can be a good time to dispel any untrue rumors they may have heard from friends or the media that could be causing unnecessary fear for them. You can then move on and ask them what their current concerns are and how they are feeling emotionally.
For some children, it may be hard to express how they are feeling, especially if they are particularly young or are feeling overwhelmed. You may consider having them draw a picture of how they are feeling or write it down if that helps them process their thoughts better.
Adjusting to a New Normal
After being told to practice social distancing for more than a year, your child may be fearful or confused as in-person socialization becomes more of a regular thing again. They may be afraid to go back to school after learning virtually and may feel insecure in crowded environments like grocery stores, movie theaters, or sports performances. Ensure that they know however they are feeling is valid and they are not alone in these fears.
You can discuss with your child how even though life is beginning to return to normal, we can and should still take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from illness. Some examples include:
- Washing hands frequently
- Not sharing drinks or eating after one another
- Wiping surfaces down at the end of the day
- Eating healthy, well-balanced meals
- Make sure to get plenty of exercise
Remember that it is okay not to have all the answers as a parent. Nobody knows what the future holds in regards to the pandemic and what new information we will be given down the road. All we can do is make sure we are doing the best we can to stay reasonably informed and protected.
It can also be helpful to make sure that your child isn't consuming too much news that may be causing unnecessary fears. For example, limit the time they spend watching television or listening to the radio and be sure to monitor what they're looking at on social media. Remember to check in with them regularly to find out how they are feeling.
Dealing With Excessive Worrying
If your child is experiencing excessive worrying and anxiety relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may need to speak to their pediatrician. They can recommend some form of treatment, whether it be lifestyle changes, therapy, or prescription medication. Remember that anxiety, even in children, can be quite common and that it doesn't mean that you have anything to feel guilty about as a parent or that you did anything wrong. In addition to traditional treatment, there are some day to day things that you can do that can help alleviate your child's feelings of anxiety:
- Avoid discussing issues related to the pandemic too much, especially in front of your child.
- Make sure to keep things positive and help your child look for the good every day.
- Encourage your child to regularly express how they're feeling, whether it be to you, a trusted friend or counselor, or through journaling.
- Remember that too much sugar and junk food can make stress and anxiety worse, and try to monitor how much of these things your child is consuming.
- Encourage your child to get outside and get moving, whether it be by taking walks, going hiking, riding bicycles, rollerblading, or whatever they prefer.
- Remember to take the time to care for yourself and your own mental well-being.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for everyone and has caused many people to struggle with anxiety and depression. Now that things finally seem to be starting to go back to normal, it can be hard to know how to handle this transition. It can be especially confusing for children who may not fully remember life before the pandemic. Some children may be hesitant to go back to in-person socialization and may feel overwhelmed in crowded places like grocery stores or schools. It is important to talk with them about their concerns and not try to minimize how they are feeling. As a parent, be honest when addressing their concerns but also try to keep things positive. If your child is dealing with anxiety that seems excessive, you may consider speaking with their pediatrician. Contact Achieve Concierge at (858) 221-0344 today for mental health guidance.