Children's Post-Pandemic Fears: 3 Ways Parents Can Help Kids & Teenagers Out of Pandemic Fear by Dr. Jan Bonhoeffer

Children's Post-Pandemic Fears: 3 Ways Parents Can Help Kids & Teenagers Out of Pandemic Fear

From kindergarteners whose first experience of school was behind a mask or a screen to teens struggling with mental health issues, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on young people and their social and emotional development. The fear children have experienced during the pandemic is deeply rooted. I see this every day as a pediatrician. Here are some things parents should know:

  • Children pick up on adults’ emotions. When I was a young resident physician, I noticed that babies would start crying when I was feeling stressed out. I learned how to deal with it; it was very easy. I learned to use my facial expressions and the energy that I hold when I enter the room so they feel relaxed and comforted
  • Masks are not conducive to calming kids. Ever since I'm wearing a mask, this has changed again. We had to learn completely new behaviors as a lot of the facial recognition that that babies and toddlers need in order to read our faces, and to see whether we're a friend or enemy, is not there anymore.
  • Young kids don’t understand pandemic precautions. Imagine you want to go play and you have to wear a mask and you don't want to wear a mask, but then mommy says you either wear a mask or you can't go to the playground. How do you explain this to a 3-year-old?
  • Adolescents have been socially stunted by being unable to meet with their friends, play sports, socialize and participate in other normal activities that help them grow and develop into adults. 

3 Things Parents Can Do to Help Kids Overcome the Fear

  1. Be Aware, Awake and Available: Being present is key. This means not only to be physically present, but to be actually fully present, aware, awake and available for our kids.
  2. Love Is Spelled T.I.M.E.: Make it quality time where the kids feel the love and appreciation and how important and dear they are to us.
  3. The Power of Stories: The stories we tell our children about our time during the pandemic can help them make sense of the isolation they felt. When we share stories with the intention to heal, to console, to create a positive outlook, to create an environment of safety and trust, it makes a huge difference

The content on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

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Donna John
I've noticed a change in my grandson since the pandemic. And he brings it up often. So sad what these kids have to deal with. Dr. Jan Bonhoeffer
Love is definitely spelled Time. Great tips.
Mike Prochaska
Truth. Like I always say kids don’t need things they need time with parents
Elisa Schmitz
So true that kids pick up on our fears (and everything else). We are their first and most formative role models. Many thanks for these important insights, Dr. Jan Bonhoeffer , and welcome to 30Seconds.
Mike Prochaska
Yes it has been. The poor kids have been traumatized so much. Why I been trying so hard to give them as much of a normal summer as I can. Abs yes I stuggled last year because I couldn’t see the preschoolers faces to see how they where doing at work. Also so many people don’t get that kids are scared., they do. And they need to play to figure it out. I saw someone get upset at their kids for playing Covid tag at the park. That just how kids are making sense of the crazy world. I been doing everything in my power to try make life normal again for my kids but they see everything. This a great tip . We can’t forget about kids social emontinally and why I been fighting so hard for life to go back to normal for them.

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