Transparent communication between caregivers and their children is key in mitigating children’s anxiety about the pandemic, says a school counseling expert at West Virginia University.
Christine Schimmel, associate professor and program coordinator of the School Counseling Program at the College of Education and Human Services, recommends that parents be open with their children about current events.
“If your children ask questions, try your best to give accurate information without providing in-depth details that might frighten them,” Schimmel said.
“Statements like, ‘we are doing our part by staying home to try not to spread the virus to your classmates and our older citizens’ tend to be helpful.”
To temper anxiety and fear about the pandemic, she advises parents and guardians to limit the amount of television and social media they use in their homes during this uncertain time.
“I would encourage parents and caregivers to do their best to not express fear and panic in front of children, especially young children,” Schimmel said.
“One way to reduce levels of stress and anxiety in all of us is to turn off the TV or reduce access to news via television or social media.”
Parents and caregivers should make sure their children have ample opportunities for exercise and play while they’re home from school.
“Committing to allowing your children to get fresh air and exercise can help them ease anxiety and stress,” she said.
“Many children can process their fears and concerns through their play. While playdates are discouraged, letting children play is still an important coping skill.”