kids anxiety coronavirus

Watching my two littles at odds again this morning is causing me anxiety and making me wonder if everything going on in the world is creating this animosity between them. I am noticing a definite shift in their moods—their tempers are shorter with each other (and me), and they seem to be retreating into their own little worlds more frequently.

Could all this 24/7 coronavirus talk and social distancing be affecting them? Do my kids really understand what is going on?

Short answer: They probably do. Kids of all ages can become anxious—not all will—but you can help them cope and restore their perception of the world as a safe place.

When parents are focusing on stressful events with frequent reminders, like updates and images, it can cause levels of anxiety that can create an atmosphere of uncertainty that is hard to escape. And when everyone is under the same roof for extended periods of time, it can be tough for littles to get away from consuming these fears.

The good news is that this anxiety is usually temporary and resolves itself when security is established or life resumes its normal pattern. Think: When kids go back to school and are able to have some play dates with friends.

While your child might not be watching the news, they are watching you and picking up on your verbal and non-verbal cues. So even if you are being really careful about what you say, your kids are by nature very attuned to how you say it—fast, high and loud, or hushed and secretive. In short, children can pick up on your anxiety and reflect it back to you in their own innocent ways.

In a study published in the Journal of Dental Research, researchers found that maternal anxiety affected the behavior of young children. Even though these kids were experiencing a dental procedure, it found that kids mirror what parents display around them—in this case, calm or anxiety.

During trying times, it is practically impossible to shield your kids from what is going on and how you are feeling about events outside of your control—and theirs. So it's good to know what to do if it is all weighing too much on them.

Here's what to look for:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased irritability + anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sadness
  • Upset for no apparent reason
  • Headaches + stomach aches

Here's what you can do:

  • Address anxiety with your child to help them notice the changes in their body and behavior.
  • Help them understand that feelings of anxiety are normal and that everyone's behavior or mood changes when they feel this way. It is their body's way of letting them know that they are uncomfortable.
  • You may be feeling anxious yourself, and it's okay to share your concerns to demonstrate that it is normal to feel uncertain and upset—but do so within limits.
  • Help your child relax by talking with them to find out what about the situation is making them feel anxious.
  • Have them draw a picture of how they are feeling if they are having trouble telling you.
  • Create an atmosphere of control by modeling coping behaviors for your kids to follow, like deep breathing and meditation. Call out what they already do well and can do to help themselves.
  • Give them extra cuddles and comfort to remind them that you are always there for them, even when stressful things happen.
  • Call your pediatrician if their anxiety prevents them from doing things they normally enjoy or you notice a change in sleep habits or appetite—or anything else abnormal and prolonged.

You are the most important influence on your child's ability to manage and recover from their fears. By staying engaged and playing to your strengths and theirs, you can provide them with the language to label this feeling and let them know that it's normal, and just like the stress, it won't last forever.

Bottom line: Kids can get anxious, even when you are a good mom. How you react can help your little one grow through anxiety and build their resilience in the face of future stressful events. You've got this.

In This Article

    Is the BabyBjörn portable travel crib worth it?

    100% unequivocally yes.

    I have this weird brown birthmark on the bottom of my right foot near my pinkie toe and my mother always said, "That means you'll never stay still. You'll travel everywhere." (She's full of interesting superstitions like that.) I'm not sure if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy or what but I've always had a love for travel, and before we had a child (in those glorious pre-pandemic times), my husband and I traveled all over Europe, did two road trips across different parts of the United States and even flew all the way around the world to visit my family in the Philippines.

    I had this weird idea that I had to get all my traveling in before I became a mom. Because once you become a mom, you just become content sitting at home with the kids, right?

    Eh, wrong.

    Keep reading Show less

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week?

    Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

    Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

    WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

    WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

    Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

    Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

    Keep reading Show less

    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.


    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

    Keep reading Show less