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Strategies for managing pandemic-related anxiety in children

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Key Points

  1. Recognize signs of anxiety: Monitor physical, emotional, behavioral, and social symptoms to identify anxiety in children and address it early on.

  2. Create a supportive environment: Maintain open communication, provide age-appropriate information, offer reassurance and comfort, and model healthy coping strategies to help children feel secure.

  3. Teach healthy coping skills: Encourage problem-solving, practice relaxation techniques, promote mindfulness, and foster a sense of control to empower children to manage their anxiety effectively.

  4. Build resilience: Develop a growth mindset, establish routines, encourage hobbies and interests, and foster social connections to help children become more resilient in the face of uncertainty.

  5. Seek professional help when necessary: Know when to consult a mental health professional, choose the right expert, actively participate in your child's treatment, and practice patience throughout the process.

Cartoon Art picture of a child fighting off a monster. the monster represents anxiety


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant changes and challenges to our lives, leaving many children feeling anxious and overwhelmed. As parents, it's crucial to recognize the signs of anxiety in our children and equip them with the tools they need to cope with the fear and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. In this article, we will explore practical, evidence-based strategies for managing pandemic-related anxiety in children, helping them build resilience and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

I. Recognizing the Signs of Anxiety in Children

  1. Physical symptoms Look for signs such as headaches, stomachaches, rapid breathing, or a racing heartbeat.

  2. Emotional symptoms Pay attention to excessive worry, irritability, sadness, or feelings of helplessness.

  3. Behavioral symptoms Notice any changes in sleep patterns, appetite, avoidance of activities or situations, or difficulty concentrating.

  4. Social symptoms Observe if your child is withdrawing from friends and family, or avoiding social situations.

II. Creating a Supportive Environment

  1. Maintain open communication Encourage your child to express their feelings and concerns about the pandemic. Validate their emotions and let them know it's okay to feel worried or anxious.

  2. Provide age-appropriate information Keep your child informed about the pandemic, sharing accurate, age-appropriate information from reliable sources. Avoid exposing them to excessive news or media coverage that may exacerbate their anxiety.

  3. Offer reassurance and comfort Reassure your child about the measures being taken to ensure their safety, such as vaccinations and public health guidelines. Emphasize that the situation is improving and that you're there to support them.

  4. Model healthy coping strategies Demonstrate how to manage stress and anxiety through positive coping mechanisms like relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

III. Teaching Healthy Coping Skills

  1. Encourage problem-solving: Help your child identify the specific aspects of the pandemic that are causing them anxiety, and guide them in developing problem-solving strategies to address their concerns.

  2. Practice relaxation techniques: Teach your child deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to help them manage anxiety and stress.

  3. Promote mindfulness: Introduce mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga to help your child stay present and focused on the here and now, rather than worrying about the future.

  4. Foster a sense of control: Encourage your child to focus on what they can control, like following hygiene guidelines and staying informed, while accepting the uncertainties that come with the pandemic.

IV. Building Resilience

  1. Develop a growth mindset: Encourage your child to see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, helping them develop a positive outlook and build resilience.

  2. Establish routines: Create a daily routine that provides structure and stability for your child, including regular sleep, meals, exercise, and leisure time.

  3. Encourage hobbies and interests: Support your child's passions and hobbies, as engaging in activities they enjoy can help reduce anxiety and build self-esteem.

  4. Foster social connections: Help your child maintain connections with friends and family, as strong social support networks can play a critical role in mental health and well-being.

V. Seeking Professional Help

  1. Know when to seek help: If your child's anxiety is persistent, severe, or interfering with their daily functioning, it may be time to consult a mental health professional.

  2. Choose the right professional: Look for a therapist or counselor with experience in treating anxiety disorders in children, and ensure they are a good fit for your child's needs.

  3. Be an active participant: Stay involved in your child's treatment, offering support and encouragement throughout the process. Communicate regularly with the mental health professional to stay informed about your child's progress and any adjustments that may be needed in their treatment plan.

  4. Practice patience: Understand that overcoming anxiety takes time and effort, and be patient with your child as they work through their challenges. Celebrate their successes and progress, no matter how small.

VI. Additional Resources

  1. Books Consider age-appropriate books on anxiety and stress management to help your child better understand their emotions and learn coping strategies.

  2. Apps and online resources Explore anxiety-reducing apps or websites designed for children that offer guided meditations, relaxation exercises, and other helpful tools.

  3. Support groups Connect with other parents and families facing similar challenges through online forums or local support groups.

VII. Final Thoughts

Managing pandemic-related anxiety in children is a crucial aspect of supporting their mental health and well-being during these challenging times. By recognizing the signs of anxiety, creating a supportive environment, teaching healthy coping skills, building resilience, and seeking professional help when needed, parents can empower their children to overcome fear and uncertainty. It's essential to be patient, compassionate, and understanding as your child navigates these unprecedented challenges. With your love and support, they can develop the skills and resilience they need to thrive in the face of adversity.

Books for Children Experiencing Anxiety

Preschool (3-5 years):

  1. "The Huge Bag of Worries" by Virginia Ironside

  2. "Wilma Jean the Worry Machine" by Julia Cook

  3. "When I Feel Worried" by Cornelia Maude Spelman

Elementary School (6-10 years):

  1. "What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety" by Dawn Huebner

  2. "Wemberly Worried" by Kevin Henkes

  3. "Is a Worry Worrying You?" by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz

Middle School (11-13 years):

  1. "The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry" by Lisa M. Schab

  2. "Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety" by Dawn Huebner

  3. "Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens" by Earl Hipp

High School (14-18 years):

  1. "The Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness Skills to Help You Deal with Stress" by Gina M. Biegel

  2. "The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens: CBT Skills to Overcome Fear, Worry, and Panic" by Jennifer Shannon

  3. "Mindfulness for Teen Anxiety: A Workbook for Overcoming Anxiety at Home, at School, and Everywhere Else" by Christopher Willard


Are you having challenges recovering from the emotional effects of the pandemic?

Explore your wellness with the Post-Pandemic Recovery Workbook. This workbook is designed by professionals utilizing the best of the clinical literature on self-improvement to assist you in achieving your wellness goals.


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