Helping Kids Cope With Pandemic Fatigue 

At this point, pandemic fatigue is affecting everyone–adults and children. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin to help children navigate their feelings of exhaustion, sadness, and isolation when you’re struggling with pandemic fatigue yourself.

Here are a few ways to help kids deal with the stress and anxiety they are experiencing.

1. Set stable routines.

The interruptions to daily life are likely to continue occurring. Children benefit from predictable, stable routines. As a parent or caregiver, you don’t have control over all of your child’s routines, and some of these routines will be unstable as the pandemic continues, but you can set up a few routines that your child can consistently expect.

These routines can range from everyday activities like waking up at the same time, going for a walk after school, and bedtime rituals to less frequent activities like a weekly family game night or watching a movie together each weekend. Even small routines help children feel more stable.

If children are old enough, they can be involved in choosing some of the routines. You might be surprised by a few of the ideas that they have.

2. Check-in with kids about their feelings.

Keeping open communication with children about their emotions can help. Everyone reacts to stress and anxiety differently, so you may not realize how your child feels just based on observation. 

Some children may withdraw from interactions while others may have changes in their sleeping patterns or activity levels. Each child’s response may look wildly different.

Depending on a child’s age and personality, you may get an awkward silence when asking questions. Some children will share right away, but others might avoid the topic. For reluctant sharers, continue to gently bring up the topic without pressing too hard, and look for times when you are engaged in an activity together to connect. 

Be honest with an age-appropriate response when children share their fears and feelings. You won’t be able to fix all the problems, but your role as a calm sounding board can reassure and soothe anxious feelings.

3. Spend more time outdoors.

Taking kids outdoors to play has multiple positive benefits even during normal times. Outdoor play helps keep kids physically healthy and encourages the development of creativity.

Playing outdoors also has a positive effect on mental health, which is especially important for children during the pandemic. Children who play outdoors are more resilient and are better equipped to deal with stress. 

As an added benefit, outdoor play with other children can help children feel less isolated, which helps to alleviate some anxiety.

You’ll also feel better if you spend time outside regularly as well. The weather may not always be perfect, but going outside to play when possible can make the current situation a little bit easier for both you and your children. 

4. Brainstorm with kids about ways to continue socializing safely.

Children develop their social skills through interactions with others. The pandemic has limited social interactions and, as a result, many children are more isolated than before. Following health guidelines, does not have to come at the expense of all socialization. 

There are still ways that children can safely socialize with others. Work with kids to think of ways that they can still safely interact with friends and family members. Playing online games together, doing activities like cooking or painting on video calls, and participating in outdoor activities with a friend are all great ways to stay connected.

Younger children may need more help thinking of ways to stay in touch with others. Older children can take a little more initiative and may even be able to set up some of their plans for socializing on their own.

Either way, when children are able to have more social interactions, they’ll have more opportunities to develop the social skills that they need.

The past two years of the pandemic have been difficult for everyone. As you work to help kids cope with their pandemic fatigue, look for ways to find time to take care of yourself as well. When you as a parent or caregiver are able to manage your own anxiety and stress, you’re better equipped to help those around you.

While the strategies presented here can help alleviate some symptoms of pandemic fatigue if you or your children are experiencing feelings that require professional resources, reach out to professional help.