How Parents Can Lower Worries About COVID-19

Talk about it. Despite the age of your children, it is important to have an open dialogue about what is going on in the world. The constant flow of information that can be found on the news and online makes it overwhelming for children and parents. It is extremely important to debunk any false information such as consuming and spraying disinfectants and alcohol on the body.

Use age appropriate language when speaking to children about the situation. Younger children may not understand words like “pandemic”, “virus”, “social distancing” and “respiratory disease”. Instead use terms like “feeling sick”, “cough”, “staying apart from others”.

Normalize children’s fear by listening and expressing that you are also concerned. You can also use this as an opportunity to introduce ways the world health organization has advised people to stay safe and what your family can do together to ensure you are following those regulations. Practice wearing masks, gloves, and handwashing techniques at home.  Show them that they, along with their family, have a plan and are in control of the situation by practicing healthy behaviours. Create a plan together that includes home cleaning routines to help disinfect and wash different rooms in the house; taking turns washing the dishes; helping prepare meals in a sanitary way; frequent handwashing and sanitization; and wearing masks when in enclosed public places.

Explain why they must stay distanced from friends and family. Remind children that they cannot go play with friends or visit grandma and grandpa because we must keep each other safe and healthy by staying apart.

Focus on staying connected. Try and keep your child connected to other family members and friends. You can do this through video chats or small outdoor social-distanced visits. Try and allow your child to do fun activities, such as painting with friends over zoom, Microsoft teams or Facetime. You can even send handwritten letters to family that lives abroad; who wouldn’t want a pen pal sending letters back and forth during this time?

Try to keep your own worries at bay. Self-care is extremely important for parents. Take time off from social media and from watching the news if this is a trigger for your worrying. Instead, try meditating, reading a novel, watching a fun family movie, listening to music, and importantly, getting some physical exercise.

Focus on other news. While coronavirus is a hot topic for newscasters, try to pay attention to other news about things that happen worldwide to learn about and discuss with your family. This will help redirect your attention from COVID-19 and hopefully lower your worrying.

Create a family fun schedule. Structured schedules and routine are extremely important for you and your child at this time. However, it is equally important to schedule in fun family activities to do together. This will separate work and play and give kids something to look forward to at the end of a long day. For a fun family do-it-yourself, grab a Bristol board, colourful markers, and lots of stickers to make a schedule filled with fun family activities.

Resources for parents to help explain the coronavirus pandemic to children:

For parents or caregivers that would like a little help explaining the coronavirus pandemic to their children, there are free books on Mangination Press written by experts in the field. The free resources can be accessed through this link:

If you are concerned with the severity of yours or your child’s worries about COVID-19, you can learn more about what behaviours are typical of certain age groups at The ABC’s of Mental Health. This is a free resource created by professionals at the Hospital for Sick Children that provides ways you can promote wellness and understand what behaviours may indicate a problem:

If you are still unsure of the severity of your child’s behaviours, it may be useful to contact a clinical psychologist or other mental health professional to discuss.

Web Database Resources to help with COVID-19 concerns:

You can search for resources (e.g., helplines) across Canada using this database.

e.g., Search: Type in >Telephone Crisis Lines”; Where: Type in > Name of your Province



Free provincial helplines through which Information and Referral Specialists provide confidential and anonymous support, health information, and referral services (including contact information for services and supports within the caller’s community if requested) relating to problems with gambling, alcohol, other drugs, and mental health over the phone or via website chat.

Tel: 1-866-531-2600 (Mental Health Helpline)


Website: (Mental Health Helpline)

Availability (for all the above): 24 hours/day, 7 days/week

Telephone Resources to help with COVID-19 concerns:

If your child would rather talk to someone anonymously about their problems, there are many free resources they can use:

Ontario - Kids Help Phone

Phone service is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, national service offering bilingual (English and French) professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support for young people.

Tel: 1-800-668-6868


Free, confidential, and anonymous helpline, for individuals ages 17-25. Open 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Provides professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being over the phone and in-person, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tel: 1-866-925-5454

Text: GOOD2TALKON to 686868 (chat with a trained, volunteer Crisis Responder)

Mental Health Helpline

Listens, offers support and provides strategies to help you meet your goals. Provides information about counselling services and supports in your community  over the phone and in-person.

Tel: 1-866-531-2600


Gerstein Crisis Centre Telephone Call Line

Free, voluntary, and confidential crisis intervention service over the phone and in-person, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tel: 416-929-5200

Distress Centre Telephone Call Line

Crisis line offering free services for individuals in distress who require urgent emotional care and for individuals who have been physically or sexually assaulted or who are at risk of being assaulted.

Distress Centre Central: 416-598-0166

Distress Centre North York: 416-486-3180

Distress Centre Scarborough: 416-439-0744

Distress Centre Peel: 905-278-7208

Mental Health Service Information Ontario (MHSIO)

Information about mental health services and supports in communities across Ontario.

Tel: 1-866-531-2600


By Ana Zdravkovic, M.A., Ph.D. Student and Esther Geva, Ph.D, C. Psych.

July 20, 2020