How can you help your children overcome their anxiety because of Covid-19?

Professionals believe that parents should speak to their children about what is happening in order to help them overcome their anxiety. They said that in communicating with their children, parents should be positive and explain that this is only temporary …and that it will pass.

The changes we have had to make in the way we live because of Covid-19, is affecting children and adolescents. Prof Carmel Cefai from the University of Malta said that in this uncertain climate, the role of the family has become more important than ever.

He said that, like adults, children are afraid that someone close to them might be infected by the virus. He added that children need reassurance that things will get better…and above all, positivity.

The Commissioner for Public Health, Dr John Cachia said that parents should speak to their children about what is happening.

“When we come to give an explanation to children we need to tell them the truth without twisting the facts, however we need to speak to them in a way which children can understand. If we are speaking to small children we need to explain basic things like, for example, why they cannot visit their grandparents, and why Mummy and Daddy need to stay at home because of this situation.”

Dr Cachia said that with adolescents, parents need to be clear and direct according to their level of maturity.

“We need to share our anxieties with them as well and we should not try and act too cool, and that we are not worried by these things. We should not pass on our anxieties to them, however we should speak frankly and directly.”

He said that in order to reduce anxiety, parents should create a schedule of activities for during the day..which does not just include studying, but also extend to time on social media to talk to their friends, to their grandparents and a time for relaxation.

“Let us use this time so that whole increasing what they need to do in terms of study, we also use the time we have to help one another.”

Nadine Cuschieri, an Art Psychotherapist, explained that through art, children and adults can express what they are feeling and be left at liberty to draw what they wish.

”If parents notice that children are suddenly drawing in a way which is disturbing – a lot of dark and sad drawings for example, it is good to draw attention to this and create a conversation about it, to understand why they are drawing in this way. But one should not say, “no, you are not supposed to do that.”

The Commissioner for Public Health has appealed to parents to seek psychological help for their children if they notice that anxiety is not letting them sleep, and that they are spending too much time alone or are not doing what they used to enjoy doing before.  They have also warned that traumatic symptoms may emerge even after everything has passed.

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