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How to Help Children Cope with COVID-19 Induced Anxiety

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The Magic of Play – Play is a child’s natural language. Additionally, play has long been regarded as a vital element in the normal growth and development of children. It is also a wonderful tool for children to express their emotions through the use of imagination and creative expression. 
Studies have shown that children who engage in play show reduced signs of fear, agitation, and tension associated with a perceived threat (i.e., COVID-19)

Stay Physically Active – Staying active is one of the most effective ways to stay mentally healthy and to cope with worry, sadness, and isolation. During this uncertain time, physical activity is especially important for all children and teens, but making it possible may require creativity right now.• Going outside for a walk, jog, or bike ride• Trying an online fitness workout or workout with a friend over the phone• Playing hopscotch• 30 minutes of family fitness (jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups) 
• Dancing to a favorite playlist• Walking up and down staircasesHelp Your Child Change Anxious Thoughts to Calm ThoughtsA) Help your child identify their thoughts 
(Ask: If you were a cartoon, what would your thought bubble say right now?) 
B) Help your child figure out if this thought is fully true, somewhat true, or not really reasonable
(Ask: How do you know this is true? Let’s find out more about this. How likely is this?) 
C) After discussion, help your child come up with a believable, but less worried thought 
(Ask: What could you tell yourself instead that would help you feel less worried? What would you tell a friend who was having the same thought, to help them realize it wasn’t fully true?)Teach Them Self-Compassion and to Accept Their Emotions – Teach your child to speak to themselves in a loving and kind way, the same way they speak to their best friend. To help your kids accept both their positive and negative feelings, empathize and validate their experiences and emotions. Avoid being dismissive or rushing them to feel better. Give your kids the space and permission to process their feelings, whatever they may be. Make Time for Breaks- Everyone around the world is experiencing increased worry right now, including children and parents. You can help your child take mental breaks by practicing a few minutes of relaxation or mindfulness together or teaching them how to do this on their own. Don’t forget parents need mental breaks too. Set a schedule and place it in a location where children can see it. Make sure everyone knows when parents are available and when they are not. Making time for mental breaks is important for clear thinking, making healthy choices, and reducing stress.

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