My child seems a little anxious about being at home instead of going to school/childcare. What can I do?

Thank you for asking this question! One thing that I always like to do is to try to put myself in the child’s shoes for a moment to best look at what they are dealing with. I am sure that many of you have had the “how was school today” question answered with a short and nondescriptive type of answer, if any. 😊 Using this technique will help!

So, let’s put this into perspective… Most children went to school the usual way a week ago, today. They went to school and did their “normal” routine that they have been perfecting since September. They are EXPERTS and take pride and comfort in knowing exactly what to expect. See, humans are always looking for a solid ground that they can stand on. We naturally seek an equilibrium and when something happens that throws that off, we are unbalanced. This is when stress and anxiety have the opportunity to gain strength. Our nature is to then do whatever we can to get back to that balance as best as possible. Why?...because in order to process what comes at us, we need to know that our feet will land on sturdy ground.

Fast forward to today, your child has now been abruptly told that their “normal” routine is going to be different indefinitely. Their parent/guardian might be home now with them, or they might need to be at work because they are essential employees. The media is constantly talking about “death”, “virus”, “quarantine” and “social distancing” and your child might not know what these terms mean, but they can tell that everything in their routine is now turned upside down. They can also tell when the ones they love the most are stressed out and scared.

So, what can you do to help them? Remember that children need routine and the more like an EXPERT they feel they are at the routine, the more grounded they will feel to handle the stress and anxiety. These are some tips that I suggest to help your child (and you) to get the stress/anxiety level back to calm (the “green zone”):

  • Make a schedule and follow it. If possible, have your children be a part of this plan (to create a better “buy in”). If time permits, come up with tasks that you know will be in the day and have them draw pictures for each task. VISUALS ARE AWESOME NO MATTER THE AGE!!! Create house rules together. Your home is their safe place and it is important to create rules that you will all follow while in this space together. Keep them short and simple. Ours at The Children’s Center are “Be Safe”, “Be Kind”, “Be Responsible” and “Be Respectful”. (You should ask your child if they know what they are as they often take pride in sharing this with anyone that will listen. We call them the Four “Be’s”.)
  • Stay active! Remember that the average child needs movement regularly. On average, a child should move for 15 minutes out of every hour in their day. So, if you have that child that is diligently working on the computer or sitting at the table to complete their on-line/at home learning, remind them to stretch every so often. I find that setting a timer is a helpful reminder. (for children with their own phone, they can set the timer for themselves).
  • Go outside and breathe the fresh air. Remember that social distancing does not stop you from being able to go outdoors. (Note- It is not recommended to take your children to playgrounds at this point because the equipment is hardly ever sanitized. But there are still MANY things you can do outdoors, like building fairy houses with natural materials or a snowman while the snow lasts.)
  • Schedule a time to be with each child WITH NO DISTRACTION, even if it is just 10 minutes a day. Let them lead what is happening during this time, whether it be a tea party or setting up an in-house camp. You will be surprised at what your child will share with you when you are in “their world” with them!
  • Limit screen time. I know that children are needing to go onto media devices to complete much of their “at home school work”, but it is important to limit how much time they are spending on the screen. If you find that your child is spending much of the day on the computer, on their phone or watching television it is time to intervene and create a new routine.
  • Be careful about what you are watching or talking about with other adults in person or on your phones. Children have amazing abilities to pick up conversations even at far ranges. They also are really good at picking up on your social cues and emotions.
  • Remind them regularly, that they are SAFE and that you are going to take care of them.

To say that I am beyond grateful to have this type of media to reach out to families is putting it mildly. Please help in getting these messages out and feel free to share out to your friends if you think that this will help them in any way. I am asking that if any parent/guardian has any question regarding parenting or your child’s social/emotional well-being, please e-mail it to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I will do my best to answer them in a highlight on our Facebook account. Your name will not be linked to the question, so do not hold back on what you want to know. 😊

In the meantime, if you have had the chance to do any of the bulleted items above, please share on our Facebook thread about the experience or ideas that your family came up with. We are all in this together and I am here for you!

Miss Heather