Tips for Managing Children’s Anxiety About COVID-19

As the world continues to navigate its way through the recent global COVID-19 pandemic, adults and children alike are dealing with heightened anxiety levels. Depending on your specific location, many children are worried about if or when they’ll return to school, if they’ll become infected with the virus, or if their loved ones will become infected with the virus.

It’s perfectly normal for children to feel anxious about the unknown or changes in their life. When left unchecked, anxiety can impact both the brain and the body, and cause feelings of helplessness and sadness. However, there are ways parents can help their children manage their anxiety today and into the future.

Create a routine

One of the most effective ways to help children cope with change is to create a daily routine. Routines help us anticipate what will happen next. They provide us with a sense of stability, which is particularly important during a period of change or crisis. A normal, healthy, structured routine will help children maintain sleep structure, daily physical fitness, and healthy eating habits.

Work together with your children to establish their new routine. When you include them in the plan, they’ll feel empowered and in control of their day. Consider creating a goal chart with daily chores and place it in an area where they can easily see it, like on the front of your refrigerator. If you need a little help developing your new schedule, turn to a trusted resource such as your school for ideas about daily activities and daily work.

Look for the signs of anxiety

It’s important to check in with your children regularly and to be on the lookout for the early signs of anxiety. We recommend thinking about anxiety on a scale from 1-10. What can start out at a lower level of anxiety can reach a 9 or 10 if left undetected. The early signs of anxiety can present differently for everyone. For some it may start with becoming fidgety or biting their nails; for others, it can present as anger or irritability. You know your children better than anyone, so be on the lookout for changes in their behavior or personality.

Typical symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • Excessive worrying
  • Difficulty sleeping and fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fidgeting or restlessness
  • Change in appetite
  • Isolation within your home
  • Irritability

It’s also important to remember children of different ages respond differently to stress and anxiety. In particular, younger children do not have the ability or words to express what they are feeling. Their anxiety can present itself in meltdowns, aggression, or tantrums. Older children, including teenagers, tend to respond to anxiety with irritability or isolation.

Help your children develop coping skills for anxiety

As your children become more anxious, it becomes more challenging to calm them down. During these moments, it’s very important to use physical coping skills to lower their anxiety levels.

Teach them how to physically calm themselves using deep breathing, counting backwards, or going to a safe place to take a break. Be sure to establish a space that makes your child feel calm and safe, such as their playroom or bedroom. For younger children, add something physical for them to hold or touch, such as a blanket, fidget toy, or favorite stuffed animal. These physical actions can help reduce feelings of stress and provide a few moments to further discuss with your child about how they are feeling.

how to manage child anxiety

Focus on what they can control

It’s important to remind your children that “this too shall pass.” Regardless of the source of stress, it is not permanent and can be managed. Rather than dwelling on what is beyond their control, focus on what they can control. If you can eliminate “what-if thinking” during the early stages of anxiety, you can focus on what’s happening in the moment, such as what you can accomplish for the day.

Give them the facts

We tend to shelter our children from the truth, but they pick up on our anxiety and more often than not hear bits and pieces of information about what’s happening around them. As with everything else in life, knowledge is power. Talk to your children in an age-appropriate manner about what is happening in their life. With COVID-19, for example, explain what the virus is, how the brightest minds in the world are developing vaccines and treatment options, and how basic hygiene habits (such as washing hands and social distancing) can help reduce their risk of contracting the virus.

Stay connected to family and friends

While social distancing is very important right now, it’s also important to stay connected to family and friends. By leveraging technology and our creativity we can actively find meaningful ways to foster human connections. Whether you call or video chat with family and friends, write letters or emails to teachers or draw pictures for classmates, there are plenty of ways to stay connected while we isolate ourselves.

Seek professional help

It’s very natural for children and their parents to experience anxiety during an uncertain time like this. However, when your child’s anxiety continues and begins to impact their physical and mental health, it may time to consult a mental health professional.

If your or your children are suffering from anxiety, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Our psychotherapists at BE Psychology Center offer anxiety counseling services to help you get back on the path to living a happy and healthy life.

As we comply with current COVID-19 guidelines and regulations, we continue to offer our therapy sessions via virtual platforms to provide the support you need to maintain your mental health during these temporarily uncertain times. Virtual sessions are completely confidential, safe, and secure. Additionally, if your traditional sessions are covered by your insurance, your virtual sessions will be covered by your insurance provider as well.

Contact a member of our team to learn more about how talking to a psychologist in Dubai can help you or your loved ones face the challenges of life in a healthy and positive way.


reem shaheen counseling psychologist


Reem Shaheen – LMHC