Tried-and-tested ways to help worried kids, from someone who had anxiety as a child

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

Anxiety can affect anyone of any age and the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic aren't helping.

Just like us, the changes and stress related to COVID-19 impact our kids in a multitude of ways.

To best help navigate the worry that is circulating through so many, let's look at some ways to support them. 

Ask questions

It's tempting to assume that our kids feel what we're feeling, but often that isn't the case.  Even if they are worried, we might not know what the actual cause is until we ask. To check in, we could ask them if there's anything from TV that has worried them? Or if something is on their mind?

Remember that it's okay not to have all the answers to their questions – it can be helpful for kids to see that even grown ups don't know everything.

Look for the helpers

It's easy to become weighed down by people not playing by the rules or doing the wrong thing.

To balance these frustrations, together with our kids we can take some time to look for the people helping in the community. These could be nurses, teachers, doctors, delivery drivers or scientists. To supercharge this process, you could make thank you cards for those that you cross paths with.

Seek out positive input

There are still happy things going on in the world and seeking out positive stories is a nice activity to counterbalance worry.

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Googling positive news stories, asking around for happy moments and talking about them can be a huge mood shifter. To boost this, you could even make a scrapbook of uplifting stories together.

Practice relaxation together

There's a high chance that the stress and worry of COVID-19 has been impacting you too, so actively engaging in relaxation activities together can help the whole family.

You could practice yoga, listen to a guided meditation, go for a long walk with no phones, colour in or sit on the grass for some deep breathing. If you choose to meditate together, aim for a guided track that has lots of visual imagery, these are easier for kids to connect with. 

Prompt them to feel their feelings

When kids feel safe to feel their feelings, the emotional charge that accompanies them reduces. It helps build resilience, empathy and emotional wellbeing.

To promote this, modelling emotional regulation ourselves is a great place to start. Teaching children to identify what feeling they are experiencing and then giving them the space to feel it helps emotions move along without stagnating. 

Interested in more ways to calm kids' minds? Check out Tammi's newest book The Panic Button Book for Kids (she also has one for adults!)

Tammi Kirkness is a Sydney-based Life Coach who specialises in holistic wellness and anxiety management. She's studied under monks in the south of India, has a background in psychology and coaches 1:1 clients around the globe.