Dealing with your child’s anxiety around Coronavirus

Times are very strange at the moment. Just a matter of weeks ago, our lives were changed drastically within a matter of days to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. As a result, both us and our children have had to stop the simple, normal, everyday things we once did without thinking.

Karen O'Connell Children's House Southwell Nursery Owner

As adults, we have a lot of questions and I am sure that as parents, you have been getting asked lots of questions from the kids; Why aren’t we at nursery? Why is nursery closed? Why aren’t you going to work? What is coronavirus? Is it going to hurt me? Children are very susceptible and aware of their environment, so many may well be picking up on the current anxiety all-around at this time.

It’s true that we don’t have the answers to everything our children ask us (and that is absolutely fine), but it is a worrying time for them and we shouldn’t be afraid to discuss such things (especially if they are asking questions and wondering for themselves). Encouraging conversations and discussions will help them remain calm if they are anxious. They may worry more if they are kept in the dark (more so now than ever perhaps) so let’s work together to give them as much light as we can to ease their worry as best we can.

What to do if your child feels anxious

Firstly, reassurance is key. The children need to know that they will be coming back to nursery soon – that everything will go back to normal and they will be with their friends again. Perhaps show them the Nursery Facebook page and see if they can name the children and staff in our video?

We need to give them some facts, whilst also not letting them know absolutely everything – you know your children better than anyone and will know what they need to hear to make them feel a bit calmer.

Depending on the age of the child, they may be able to understand a little bit more so you can tell them that some people may get ill, and some more ill than others, whilst reassuring them that lots of people do indeed get better to ensure you don’t overwhelm them and keep their minds at ease.

It’s important to also take cues from the children – if you notice a slight change in their behaviour, maybe they are looking a little more nervous or anxious than usual, don’t be afraid to ask them if something is bothering them.

It’s OK to stop your conversation and say to your child;

I can see that you are worried and that is OK – do you want to talk about it?

Create a safe environment for your child to tell you how they are feeling and reassure them that these feelings are totally normal – these are unprecedented times and we are likely to see some different behaviour from our children; their whole routines have changed –  they are no longer at nursery, you are no longer at work so they are likely to feel somewhat out of sorts, but continue to let them know you are still there for them with lots of reassuring hugs and kisses!

If you have certain family routines that can still be done without leaving the house, continue with these. Whether that’s movie night, pizza night… anything the children are used to. Keeping these particular routines in place and making time for you as a family is important to ensuring the children keep some sense of normality in their lives at this bizarre time.

Sophie’s Stories Online

Chalk superheroes Children's House Nursery Southwell Nottinghamshire
Chalk Superheroes

We’ve found an excellent online resource for this and it is a story called Stay Home Superheroes, one of Sophie’s Stories online. This is a great story to read to your child- whether you are aware they are feeling anxious or not, which will help them begin to understand the worry they may be feeling.

A lovely story that is very relevant and child friendly … with the added bonus of being a superhero and what child doesn’t want to be a superhero!

Guest blog post by: Isabelle O’Connell, PGCE Primary Teacher