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Here’s how you can manage your children’s anxiety levels during Covid-19

Published on:7 June 2021, 17:02pm IST
The pandemic has been harsh on people from all age groups and children are no exception to the increased stress levels.
Dr Vikas Satwik
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anxiety in children (1)
A child health specialist shares tips on how parents can manage their children’s anxiety levels. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Nobody could have imagined that anything like a pandemic would occur and turn our world upside down. Most of us are facing challenges, be it dealing with Covid-19, financial challenges, lack of food/shelter/employment/ social interactions etc. Additionally, the all day news cycle constantly gives updates about the virus mutations and this tends to worry a lot of us. It is not easy dealing with something that has crept into each and every decision of our lives, from  education, to food, holidays and even weddings. 

The second wave has impacted us even more as most of us have either directly faced its wrath or seena loved one go through it. To make things even more stressful, there is a new variant that has been found in India which is labelled as ‘variant of concern’ by the W.H.O. 

anxiety in children
Care for your child’s mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Are children also suffering from anxiety?

Unfortunately, most adults are focussed towards their own physical and mental wellbeing, believing that children are safe as they do not step out and that their mental conditioning is not really impacted by covid-19. However, since adults have responsibilities, it makes them sail through the day and have a sense of achievement at the end of it. Children, on the other hand have no such recourse and they may not envisage the light at the end of the tunnel. This could  make them anxious and they might grow up with a negative image of the world. They might also become very reserved and defensive and anxiety, stress, depression, and insecurity could start limiting their life. 

Children getting affected by stress

It is normal to feel a certain amount of anxiety while you deal with an issue of the proportions of a pandemic. Increased levels of stress can cause a child to worsen any underlying medical condition and inflame physical issues. They may face racing thoughts that may focus on a single topic, or they may represent multiple different lines of thought. They could also have anger outbursts or be teary. This might also lead to the development of new fears/phobias. Another turmoil that the kids could face is trouble sleeping at night. Since social interactions have been either minimal or altogether absent, they may have no desire to eat, play or interact.

anxiety in children
Help your child navigate through these tough times. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
How can parents help manage stress levels? 

Each and every child reacts in a certain manner according to their maturity levels. So, children could either become overly attached to their parents or detach themselves. Moreover, there is no straight jacket way to resolve your child’s anxiety, however, as parents, we can do certain things to help: 

  • First and foremost, find ways to deal with your own emotions about the current situation, because children tend to pick up on the mood from the people around them. 
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings and never avoid discussing such topics, as it can make them feel even more anxious expressing their feelings. This will help validate their emotions. 
  • Let them know that some things in their lives are out of their control. Teach them how to solve problems/situations that one can do something about and not delve into aspects that are out of their control.
  • Decrease their screen time, because too much exposure to social media can be harmful. Also, encourage them to play, find out their interests and hobbies and consider playing with them. 
anxiety in children
Gift your child an active lifestyle. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
  • Ensure that regular exercise and sleep requirements are met. Perhaps, fix a routine for them as it might help them take their mind off other things. Help them find a balance between fun, relaxing, and productivity.
  • If necessary, consulting a child psychologist can help in getting a clearer picture as to what the child is going through. 

These few tips might help your child in coping with the anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic. So, remember to actively talk to your child and let them know that you have their back.

Dr Vikas Satwik Dr Vikas Satwik

Dr Vikas Satwik, Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore