How can I help if my child is worried about Covid-19?

We’re all being asked to keep safe during the coronavirus outbreak by staying at home and washing our hands. While these simple actions are the best way to protect ourselves, it’s easy for children to feel unsettled by all the changes taking place. The activities below stop worries becoming overwhelming.

two kids looking out of door window

Breathe in ‘threes’: 30-second activity

This breathing exercise helps quieten anxious thoughts. Practise it together with your child, and talk about when it might be useful to breathe like this.

  1. Breathe in slowly for the count of three.
  2. Hold your breath for the count of three.
  3. Breathe out slowly for the count of three.

Repeat this as many times as you like until you feel calmer.

Recognise what’s going well: two-minute activity

When we worry, we often imagine all the bad things that might happen. This exercise helps us stay present by remembering safe or comforting thoughts.

Ask your child to name or write down:

  1. One thing that’s going well for you right now.
  2. Two people you can count on for a warm hug or kind word.
  3. Three things you’re looking forward to.

The circle of control: five-minute activity

Practising the circle of control can help limit which thoughts become worries.

Ask your child to draw a circle on a piece of paper. Inside the circle, write down the “things I can control.” For example:

  • What I wear.
  • What I choose to read or watch online.
  • Washing my hands to stay safe.

Outside the circle, write down the “things I can’t control.” For example:

  • The weather.
  • What other people post online.
  • How my friends or family feel.

Let them know you are there to talk

The activities above are useful tools for relieving anxious feelings. But it’s just as important to let your child know you are ready to listen and support them.

Give eye contact, nod without interrupting, and then acknowledge their feelings. For instance, “I can see why you’re worried.” Sitting down together with a problem can lighten the load.

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