The past few weeks have presented us with a new reality that requires us to adapt. Even more so for some children, who do not always understand the stresses around them, the news on TV, or the change in their routine. School is on hold, sports practices are canceled and playtime with friends is a thing of the past. For many, these changes have brought significant stress and anxiety. This is a completely normal reaction and parents play an important role in how children cope with stress. Here are some tips and tricks to better equip you in helping your child.
Stress and anxiety in children during Covid-19
How to help your child manage stress and anxiety
First, it’s important to understand the difference between stress and anxiety. Stress is the body’s reaction to a situation or any change requiring adjustment. Anxiety is when you anticipate stress, and exaggerate the fear that comes with it.
Stress is part of life and trying to eliminate it would be a mistake - we must learn how to use it to our advantage. It’s stress that gives us the energy to overcome an ordeal as well as allowing us to react quickly. On the other hand, it can also become negative when it takes over our emotions.
Do not hesitate to discuss difficult subjects with your children. Don't wait for them to find the courage to ask about things they are not comfortable with. Ask them questions and use terms they will understand. New words have appeared in the past few weeks - quarantine, social distancing, virus, vaccine, etc. Take the time to explain what they don't necessarily understand and give them examples that they can better grasp.
Try to turn situations into something positive. Write a fun hand-washing song with your kids to help fight the virus. Plan a fun night each week with a special treat (a.k.a. chocolate cake and movie night) to spend a wonderful evening with the family.
We must learn to deal with this new reality by confronting unfamiliar situations and working to find solutions to improve and to be present for each other - even more with children.