These days I, as a psychologist, speak with a lot of children that are concerned about the coronavirus and many of them share the same ruminating thoughts. When I ask children and adolescents questions concerning this topic they often say that they are mostly concerned about those in their family or close friends who are sick or elderly.
Some of the questions I get asked a lot are:
“Will my granddad be able to survive this?”
“Can I make a difference?”
“What if I am infected?”
“What if I pass it on to someone else?”
Get control of the Corona fear
In this blog I have gathered some suggestions on how you can calm your child if they a stressed and worried about the coronavirus.
- First and foremost we have to acknowledge that during a pandemic it is very normal that anxiety and fear will keep pace with the actual virus – of course it occupies our minds! These days we are experiencing quite some changes in our everyday life which affect us, and reacting to these changes is natural but we have to find a balance between acknowledging the seriousness of the situation and being in distress.
- Countries around the world are trying to contain the virus with different initiatives and restrictions in order to slow the outbreak and minimize disruption. This is why everyone should respect the guidelines. Acknowledge the feelings your child is expressing. Even though we are worried, we can still handle this situation rationally by following the guidelines.
- Remember, these initiatives and restrictions are made to contain the coronavirus and protect those who are vulnerable and at risk. Another reason is that if the disease starts spreading rapidly, it will have troublesome consequences on hospitals, doctors and nurses, and those who need medical care will not be able to get treatment.
- Quarantine the children’s worries: schedule your coronavirus concerns. Most of the children and adolescents I have helped they have benefitted from this exercise that only allows them to worry during a specific time each day, and by making their worries constrained by time they avoid spending all day on ruminating thoughts.
How to quarantine your thought:
- Only spend 15 to 20 minutes during the afternoon and make a deal with your worries.
- If your brain is on overdrive and you keep worrying about coronavirus throughout the day, just write them down and tell yourself that you’ll be “seeing” them again at 3 PM.
- Only during your scheduled time for your coronavirus concerns should you spend time reflecting on your worries and finding ways on how to cope with them.Can you act on your worries (e.g. by following guidelines from Unicef or are your worries of a more catastrophic nature? They might start with “what if . . .”, such as; “what if someone coughs on me?” or “What if someone infected touches me?”
- Your thoughts are beyond your control and you must be extra critical towards those ruminating thoughts.
- Postpone analyzing your thoughts until your next scheduled time for coronavirus concerns. And instead you should just focus on being in the present.
Protect your mind from corona
You and your child should skip your search for stories on coronavirus. Maybe you should even limit your searches to only one or two per day. Following the news affects your body, mind and emotions. So, aks your self one question: will postponing your habit benefit you?
The intention isn’t to rid yourself of your worries, it is to give you and your family a more balanced way of dealing with these worries. These are difficult times and everyone is being challenged in the ways we deal with our emotions.
Take extra care of one another.