Q: “How can I support my 9-year-old during this pandemic when he already deals with anxiety?”
A: This is a great question for what we are all experiencing right now. Speaking from my own personal experience, I can understand how important this is for you to be able to help. I have experienced my own bouts with anxiety and it can be a real struggle.
One of the first things I want you to think about is knowledge is power. Your son may just want information and when he has that information his anxiety level should immediately drop a little. We can all experience great anxiety from not knowing. Our own minds and thoughts can intensify a situation to such a level that we create chaos in our minds. Information can have the opposite effect and provide calm. When thinking about what information to share, make sure that you think about where your child is developmentally and what information is appropriate to share.
The second piece of advice I would give you is to stick to normal routine as much as you can during this time. I know that is a hard one because so much has changed. My child has always been very routine oriented and when that changes she doesn’t like it. We have tried to get up at the same time, eat breakfast, and take time for lunch in between my work and her online studies. I can tell you it has helped. I realize what was normal before doesn’t feel normal now, but you can still find what that new normal looks like now and try to stick to it. This will help with anxiety because your son will know what to expect.
We talk about taking care of ourselves, but our little people need self-care too. The kids, like your son, who have been so taken out of routine, missing teachers and friends and maybe scared of what is going on in the world need self-care too. I encourage you to do the things that your son likes to do for fun. I have had the most fun taking on my child’s interests. My daughter likes to read Japanese Manga books. It took her 30 minutes just to teach me how to read it. They read those books backwards and right to left. We have had so much fun with me sharing one of her favorite things to do.
Lastly, try to remain positive. I know when you experience anxiety you often find situations more threatening than they really are and it is hard to turn that off. I can’t stress this one enough. You need to tell your son that even though this is a different time we are living in that the adults are working on it and they are going to figure it out. Try to replace some of that anxiety and stress with all the amazing and positive things that people are doing in the world.