Lessen anxiety by being informed

| March 24, 2020 1:00 AM

During this trying time as we help our younger Bonner County residents, it is important that adults manage their anxiety and help children do the same.

I have a doctorate in education and 20-plus years of experience in education. I have felt overwhelmed in this transition to homeschooling at times. Anxiety in times such as these is reasonable and logical, but you can lessen it by being informed. Please consider educating yourself about the need to manage anxiety and how you can help children do the same.

Below are steps recommended and by national experts. Visit and (revisit again and again) when you are feeling overwhelmed!

1. Remain calm and reassuring. Children react and follow the reactions of adults.

2. Make yourself available. It is important that children know they have someone who will listen to them.

3. Avoid excessive blaming. Negative comments made toward others should be stopped.

4. Monitor media intake. Constantly watching updates on the status of COVID-19 will increase your anxiety! Try to avoid consuming information that might be upsetting when children are present.

5. Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible, but know the signs (see below) when children are too overwhelmed.

6. Be honest and accurate. In the absence of factual information, children’s imaginations take over and their anxiety increases.

7. Keep explanations age-appropriate.

Ages 0-2: They know when their caregiver is upset but cannot understand beyond that.

Ages 3-5: Young children may go back to thumb sucking, wetting the bed, etc. It is common for them to be more clingy and to want to stay in a place they feel safe.

Ages 6-10: Ssimple and balanced facts with the reassurance that they are safe and that adults will keep them safe. Support these facts with examples.

Ages 12-14: Make time for their questions and assist them in separating rumors from reality.

Ages 15-plus: Discuss issues in a more in-depth (adult-like) fashion. Be honest about what you don’t know and work together to be informed.

8. Know the symptoms of COVID-19. See information provided by the CDC and BCHS for more.

9. Model and review social (physical) distancing, basic hygiene, a healthy lifestyle, and encourage children to do so as well.