How to help ease kids’ anxiety during coronavirus pandemic


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ As the number of local coronavirus cases continues to grow, anxiety levels are also on the rise.

That’s why Dr. Tanuja Gandhi, a psychiatrist at Bradley Hospital in East Providence, says it’s critical for parents to have the right facts.

“Social media has the potential to be both constructive and productive and create awareness, but also create a lot of anxiety and panic,” she said.

Parents should check in with their children on a regular basis, according to Dr. Gandhi.

“Make sure you’ve addressed their values and concerns and are constantly there to provide a safe environment and ensure them that we are here for you. We are here to keep you safe,” she added.

Dr. Gerrit van Schalkwyk, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and chief of the Adolescent Unit at Butler Hospital in Providence, says it’s important to have conversations with children.

“We should be honest about what’s going on, and we should acknowledge uncertainty,” he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out guidelines on how to talk with kids about COVID-19, saying parents should:

  • Stay calm and reassuring
  • Be available to talk and listen
  • Lessen exposure to the internet, TV and radio
  • Don’t stigmatize who can get sick
  • Help children practice good hygiene and healthy habits
  • Inform children with accurate information

Visit Lifespan’s Kids’ Link RI website for more information on helping a child suffering from high anxiety.

Coronavirus: Coverage and Resources

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RI Coronavirus Hotline: (401) 222-8022 | Work-Related Questions: (401) 462-2020 | Mental Health Assistance: (401) 414-5465

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