Managing Anxiety in Children

COVID-19 Lockdown – Managing Anxiety in Children between 9-13 years

The COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. These are difficult times. As adults, we are overwhelmed. I have been trying to put up a brave front, but am stressed out. The signs of stress are beginning to show now.

How many of us have really thought about what a child must be going through now? What must be the thoughts on their tender minds? What are their coping mechanisms?

I was taken aback the other day, when my daughter said that a particular religious sect was responsible for the spread of the Corona virus in India and how they should all be asked to leave the country! I was shaken, to say the least. I was heartbroken when my son asked me “What will happen to us if you die, Momma?”. Reality hit me hard and I realized that I haven’t done my job well as a parent to help my children cope with the situation, to help them see things in the right perspective, to shield them from the onslaught of poison and misinformation being thrown around by the media that is no more than a venom factory, to not have been sensitive to what they hear me speak with others.

I failed as a parent. But I am also learning as a parent.

It is very important to understand that our children are as vulnerable and stressed out as we are. They may not know it yet. If your child is nervous or under stress, he/she could be displaying one or some of the following signs. Watch out for these ten signs of anxiety and to be able to address them early on.

  1. Being too clingy or rallying around you all-day
  2. Complaining of stomach aches or vomiting
  3. Developing a sudden fever
  4. Sudden or increased bedwetting
  5. Talking/screaming in sleep
  6. Becoming unusually quiet
  7. Become unusually aggressive or violent
  8. Having difficulty sleeping
  9. Waking up with nightmares
  10. Unusually reduced appetite

How to deal with children’s anxiety and nervousness

  1. Talk: Sit your child down and talk about facts. Do not overload with information. Just easy to handle facts. Do not lie that Coronavirus is a hoax. It is not and your child is smart enough to know that. Tell them it is a real threat, but the government and people are doing many things to help us fight is. This too shall pass. Talking helps.
  2. Set a routine: Children function best when they have a schedule to follow. With the lockdown in place, do not let your lives go haywire. Have a household routine that is pretty much close to what you normally had. Set boundaries for your child around timings for TV, play and study. Children might resist it, but they do feel secure when they know that they are under surveillance and bound by a schedule.
  3. Let them express their feelings of anger, sadness, and fear: With schools closed for long, they are grappling with unknown fear and anger. When I asked my children, what their biggest fear was they avoided looking into my eye. They avoided answering. After some prodding, very hesitatingly my son confessed, it was what if I, their mom, died? This single fear could have shattered them. I told them; I had a Plan B ready! Surprisingly, that seemed to relax them. It’s not the solution, but the sharing of fear that made the difference!
  4. Monitor information that children are exposed to: There is too much information, real and fake doing the rounds. Trust me, our children don’t need to know the COVID-19 statistics by the moment or the outcome of the global leader’s meet or which political leader says what. As a parent, it’s you, who decides what and how much your child needs to know.
  5. Do a self-check: As adults and parents, we talk many things with other adults at home and with colleagues and friends on the phone that our children hear, take cues from and internalize. Be careful not to overshare your fears and insecurities. Our children are a reflection of us!

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