How to manage children's anxiety in the face of quarantine and COVID-19?

How to manage children's anxiety in the face of quarantine and COVID-19?

By: Dr. Francisco González, SER Psychologist from Puerto Rico, San Juan Center

At this time when we are experiencing an emergency situation due to COVID-19, it is important to take measures to prevent or manage the anxiety that this process may cause you. To the extent possible, we should try to:

  • Maintain patience and tolerance when interacting with children.
  • Model appropriate behavior.
  • Establish and maintain routines within what the current circumstances allow, including periods of personal hygiene, eating, sleeping, recreation, exercise and daily living tasks (study, work, cleaning and maintenance of the home, etc.).
  • Maintain an appropriate discipline system making the appropriate modifications for the current situation.
  • Encourage periods of distance socialization with friends (phone, internet, video games, etc.)
  • Seek medical attention for any health situation that warrants it.
  • Avoid exposure to materials or situations that may affect your health or safety.
  • Monitor signs of anxiety in children, including irritability, showing more clinging than usual, disturbances in sleeping or eating patterns, difficulty paying attention or concentrating, etc.)
  • Practice relaxation strategies, such as:
    • Deep breathing: breathe slowly and deeply, releasing the air slowly.
    • Progressive muscle relaxation: The person focuses on slowly tensing one part of their body and then relaxing each group of muscles in the body.
    • Visualization: generate mental images to locate yourself in a calm place or situation.
    • Pray: repeat positive or encouraging prayers while practicing deep breathing.
  • Seek professional help if you think they will not be able to help the children handle the situation in a healthy way.
  • Family Preparation Steps:
    • Identify reliable sources to stay informed and monitor the progress of the emergency.
    • Prepare a list of community resources, including communication methods (phones, social networks, etc.) to which they can request help if necessary.
    • Develop plan to keep in touch with family and friends.
    • Learn, practice and maintain prevention behaviors:
      • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
      • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth without first washing your hands.
      • Avoid contact with people showing symptoms of illness.
      • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with disposable paper and then throw it away in a trash can, or use your elbow bend.
      • Practice social distancing.
      • Wear masks and gloves if you are sick or if you have to interact with someone who is sick.
      • Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces.