In a recently published American study, it was found that 64 per cent of school students reported increased anxiety about the pandemic.
Given that we are now in the midst of a Delta Variant pandemic here in NSW, anxiety may be a challenge for many more children than usual. Here are steps researchers recommend that parents can take to help reduce their kids’ anxiety:
1. Look for general symptoms of anxiety
Ask your kids how they’re feeling, and keep an eye out for headaches, stomach aches, sleeping troubles, persistent “what if” questions, crankiness, and excessive concern about the pandemic. An example of this might be worrying that there has been no progress in fighting the pandemic, despite widespread information about the development of effective vaccines and better treatments.
2. Encourage activities that reduce anxiety
Playing outside, playing with friends or even just “hanging out” can be powerful ways to reduce feelings of anxiety. Outdoor activity has proven to help people feel relaxed, so seek safe activities in the outdoors.
3. Help your kids understand the pandemic
Look for books and activities that can educate kids about the pandemic to help them feel like they understand what is happening around them. Children may not understand what a vaccine is, for example, and how it can protect against disease. Knowledge reduces anxiety and children are no exception.
4. Focus on family activities
The emotional connection that children have with their families is their psychological anchor during difficult times. At a time when so much of everyday life has changed, spending time with family can be an antidote for uncertainty. Take a walk or a hike together, eat dinner together, play board games.
5. Embrace distraction
Distraction isn’t a cure for anxiety, but it can diminish its intensity. When children are feeling very anxious, it’s fine to talk to them about how watching an engaging program, or reading a funny book, can help them feel calmer.
6. Get professional help when needed
If your child’s anxiety is interfering with sleep, eating, socialising or school attendance, and it persists beyond a few days, it’s a good idea to call your doctor and report what’s going on. Medical professionals who work with children are familiar with pandemic-induced anxiety and know how to get your child the necessary help.
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