WebMD BlogsRelationships

Helping Your Child Through COVID Distress

woman comforting crying female child
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistMarch 03, 2021

This year of living under COVID-19 restrictions has affected all of us, including our children. They’ve had to stay inside (along with their stressed parents), cut off from friends, with their routines disrupted. This powerful experience will affect them for years to come. But it does not have to be a wholly negative one. You can use it as an opportunity to help them learn to cope with stress.

During childhood, we learn who we are and how to manage ourselves in the world. Children are greatly affected by how their parents treat them on a daily basis and guide them through difficult times -- even adolescents absorb messages their parents give them (despite their frequent self-absorption and focus on peers). While you may not realize it, your children will carry these lessons into adulthood.

You can help your children grow from their current pandemic experiences by reinforcing these four basic messages:

  • You are not the problem. Your child may feel stressed, afraid, and out of sorts during this time. These feelings can be distressing and may leave your child questioning what’s wrong with them. By validating their feelings and letting them know that these are understandable reactions, they will learn that they are OK.
  • This time of stress and distress will pass. Despite how it might feel, this pandemic will not last forever. Restrictions will eventually be lifted, they will return to school and seeing friends in person, and life will move on. Letting your child know this (and reminding yourself of it) can help ease their concerns.
  • There are things you can do to help yourself. Encourage your child to find ways to enjoy their time at home. They might enjoy crafts, learning something new, or reading. Though they may not be able to meet in person with friends, they can enjoy time together virtually. And if they feel anxious or sad, they can do these same things to help them through those tough times.
  • You are not alone. Let them know that everyone needs help sometimes. With that in mind, encourage them to seek support from you or another responsible adult who they trust.

Adults who feel the healthiest and happiest tend to feel positively about themselves, know that they can manage through difficulties, and see important people in their lives as emotionally there for them. By teaching your children to view themselves and others in these ways, you will be preparing them to thrive throughout their lives, even as they face inevitable difficulties.


WebMD Blog
© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

More from the Relationships Blog

  • giving advice

    Think Twice Before You Give Advice

    If only we were as good at solving our own problems as we are at solving other people’s. But like so many great ideas, our solutions for others often become less perfect the more we learn about the problem ...

  • photo of couple arguing in bed

    How to Keep Your Emotions From Overwhelming You

    If you’re someone who gets emotionally overwhelmed, relationship conflict can be difficult to manage. When you get upset with your partner, you don’t handle it well. You are too upset to think clearly. So you ...

View all posts on Relationships

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More