Authored by Dr. Michelle Murray on March 23, 2020

Is your child concerned that they, you or another loved one will contract COVID-19? One activity that may help alleviate that fear is to create a Prevention Poster. Work with your child to identify their greatest fear related to the COVID-19 virus. Then, together, create a Prevention Poster with steps you can take. Doing such an activity can be fun and help give your child a sense of control and purpose in this unsure situation. Follow the steps below:

1. Listen to your child's concerns and let them know you take their fears seriously and that you understand why they feel that way.

2. Suggest that together you identify all of the steps your child can do to help prevent their greatest fear from happening. Make sure steps are realistic items (i.e. I can wash my hands before I eat, I can cover my cough, I can visit others on the phone, not in person).

3. Break the steps down to as much detail as you can.

4. Role play and review with your child on the steps you have identified.

5. Create a fun Prevention Poster with all of the steps.

6. Hang the poster in a visible spot where your child can see it every day.

WHAT IF MY CHILD'S ANXIETY IS REALLY HIGH?

If a Prevention Poster is not enough, take it one step further and create a "What If" poster. Have your child help you identify all of the steps you will take if they or someone they love gets sick. Create pictures of each step you will take and draw them on the "What If" poster. Make sure you identify actions you have control over doing. Review, role-play and practice those actions with your child every day so that they are prepared to act if/when something happens to them or someone else.

Examples may include:

- We will call loved ones important to us and arrange daily face time visits.

- We will mark (14) days off on the calendar.

- Dad (Mom, Grandma, Aunt) will help rotate to take care of me.

- You will get to pick the soup you want to eat.

When a child's anxiety is extremely high, it is important to be patient, it will take time to help them start to be calm. Look at the Prevention Poster and the "What If" poster every day with your child; remind them what they have control over. Role-playing the steps on each poster will remind them that you have a plan. Practicing will help your child gain self-mastery and confidence and their anxiety will decrease. If your child is very young role-play with toys and props.

And finally, do not mislead or lie to your child; for instance, don't tell them they or their loved one will never get sick. This is something you cannot guarantee. Stay focused on what you and your child can control and work together to create and know the plan.

- Dr. Michelle K. Murray, President and CEO, Nexus Family Healing