Helping Kids Cope During a Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change our lives and dominate headlines, social media, and the nightly news, it’s so easy for adults to be swept into the drama and worry of all that is happening in the world around us. It’s everywhere we turn and, quite honestly, COVID-19 has changed the way most of us are living our lives. It’s what we discuss on social media, with our friends, with our families, and even with our kids.

If it’s overwhelming adults and changing the way we live our lives, imagine what it can do in our kids’ lives. As adults, let’s work to help children recognize and cope positively and effectively with the anxiety and fear that may come from being constantly bombarded with COVID-19 and the changes that have taken place in our lives over the last few weeks. Consider these ideas to help children talk about and respond to this pandemic:

  • Listen. When a child begins to talk about what he or she has seen or heard about the pandemic, take time to listen without interrupting. Ask questions to gauge how much he or she understands and what the concern truly is. 
  • If a child is unable to express his apparent fears in words, encourage him to express his fears through art, building blocks, and playing. Activities can often provide an easier setting for conversations to occur.
  • Offer reassuring words and validate his or her concerns. Children need to know that you understand and have some of the same concerns they may have. Make sure the child knows what you are doing to keep him or her healthy and how your child can help keep the family healthy.
  • Point out the essential workers and people who are helping your community during this pandemic. Praise God together for the people who are keeping your grocery stores, banks, hospitals, utility companies, etc., working during this time. 
  • Practice good hygiene. Make sure your child understands that washing our hands frequently keeps us healthy and is a great way to take care of your body all year long. Talk about wearing masks in public places, and watch Don’t Fear the Mask: Helping Preschoolers Navigate a Pandemic
  • Share Bible verses that teach us to trust God. Help children understand that God loves them very much and they can trust God and His Word when they feel afraid. Choose a verse to memorize as a family, and quote it often.
  • Start a prayer journal. Encourage your child to draw a picture or write a prayer in the journal each day. Remind her that God always wants to hear from her anytime there is a concern or something she wants to discuss with God.
  • Pray as a family for your child, your child’s friends, your family, and your community. Send postcards to the people you prayed for to let them know your family loves them and is praying for them.
  • Work together to plan a family project that will help others in your community during this pandemic. Talk about social distancing and what your family can do using technology, ordering meals or supplies online, and with minimal in-person interaction with others during this time.

Anxiety and fear are natural feelings for children and adults during this uncertain time. As adults, it’s our responsibility to tell our children the truth, point them to Scripture, and encourage them to help someone else during this time. By keeping information child-appropriate and giving our kids our attention and opportunities to discuss their fears, children will begin to build tools that will benefit them for life. Let’s use this time to show our children how to respond in the face of a crisis: with a helping hand and the love of Jesus Christ.


Heather Keller is the Girls in Action and Children in Action consultant at national WMU. She and her husband are sheltering in place with their two sons, ages 10 and 15, in Birmingham, AL. A major topic of prayer in their household happens to be the essential workers who are keeping their community going.

 

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