Coping with pandemic-related stress & anxiety

Sue Atkins - Coping with pandemic stress anxietySue Atkins is a UK-based internationally recognised parenting expert, broadcaster, speaker and author of Parenting Made Easy — How to Raise Happy Children (2012)

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March, my teenage daughter is experiencing sleeping difficulty. She wakes up many times during the night, often screams and runs into my room complaining of nightmares. She also asks a lot of questions about covid-19. is this normal behaviour?

— Jyothi K, Bangalore

Since the covid-19 pandemic breakout in March, children globally are struggling to make sense and come to terms with lockdowns and restrictions imposed on human interaction and socialisation. your daughter’s nightmares are an unconscious expression of her fears and anxieties about the uncertain future. engage in a heart-to-heart conversation with her about what’s worrying her and restrict access to covid-19 news as children tend to get distressed by negative information and sometimes get the wrong end of the stick, misunderstanding and misinterpreting the facts. Also be careful about covid-19 conversations at home as she may be picking up your anxiety

Reassure her of your love and reiterate safety and hygiene guidelines such as regular washing of hands, wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. this will empower her with the knowledge to keep herself safe. i have written Ant I Viral & The Virus — Tina Stubbs & Sue Atkins’ Coronavirus Children’s eBook to help parents and children discuss covid-19 and its implications knowledgably and confidently. you can download it on: https://

For the past year, my eight-year-old daughter has been visiting a counselor to resolve some emotional problems. however, because of the pandemic lockdown, counselling sessions are now being conducted online. but my daughter is uncomfortable with these video consultations and refuses to open up and talk to her counselor. Please advise

— Worried mother, Pune

these are challenging times for children. talk, listen and ask your child how she feels about speaking to her counselor. does she like her, trust her, and feel comfortable with her? Find out whether the online process is scaring and confusing her. Also dig beyond the online technology discomfort reason. is she alone in the room during her online session or are you there too? your physical presence may be inhibiting her from speaking openly and honestly to the counselor. Once you understand the root cause of her discomfort, work out solutions jointly with your daughter and counselor.

My five-year-old son sleeps until 11 a.m every morning. then he spends a lot of time playing on the computer tab and watching television. Since i’m working from home, i am unable to keep him engaged all the time. he sleeps only after 1 a.m. i am unable to break him out of this late-to-sleep and late-to-rise cycle. i also work late hours because during the day i have a lot of household chores to attend to as my household help is not allowed in our apartment complex because of coronavirus restrcitions. it is a frustrating situation for both of us…

— Bijoy Mammen, Chennai

With schools shut and lockdown restrictions prohibiting children from playing in outdoor spaces, the phenomenon of children spending excessive time on digital screens has increased manifold. i understand how hard it is for working parents such as yourself to balance child care duties with office work, but you need to regulate your son’s screen time as it is negatively impacting his sleep pattern and mental well-being

Create a daily routine for your son to include play, meal, learning, exercise and relaxation time. Within this schedule, carve out short time bursts throughout the day when you can give him undivided attention. Also my suggestion is that you divide your office and household chores into 45-60 minute slots which will help you manage your day better.

Also read: Lockdown parenting woes

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