Reducing Family Anxiety and Worry About Coronavirus

Available with English captions and subtitles in Hindi and Spanish.

Dr. Lisa Coyne discusses ways to validate fearful emotions in adults and children and how to reframe anxiety with kids to make the ups and downs of the pandemic a challenge that’s easier for them to overcome.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many of us worried—all the time. Many are feeling anxious, even if they rarely experience anxiety.

It can be hard to stay calm when there is fear and unease in the media, frightening statistics available at our fingertips, and breaking news accessible to us at any time. How can we stay calm while keeping our loved ones feeling supported and reassured?

Dr. Coyne offers strategies for families to help them cope with anxiety and worry during the coronavirus pandemic.

This content is also available in Spanish.

Audience Questions

Dr. Coyne answers questions from attendees, including:

  • Most people don’t know what is going to happen in the future. How do you get that point across to kids without getting them more worked up, without getting parents more anxious? What happens when we don’t have the answer, and how do we confidently relay that we don’t know the answer?
  • What happens if a parent feels like they’re the middleman between generations?
  • What happens if the family is fragmented (joint custody)?
  • Even if you have a close-knit family, how do you keep the tension low and keep a more lighthearted atmosphere?
  • Do you have any recommendations for how to respond when you, or those you are quarantining with, are experiencing feelings of panic and/or anxiety?
  • How do you address when kids aren’t sleeping well? For example, recurring nightmares, getting up and landing in their parents’ bed in the middle of the night, sleep regression, or crying before they go to bed.
  • A lot of teens don’t think that their parents are taking all the right precautions or doing everything they should to keep their family safe. How can these people have positive reinforcement in their household that they are doing all right things and taking the right measures?
  • What if somebody is on the front lines and they’re exposed to, not only the virus, but all this information? How do they decrease their own worry and knowledge? How do they keep their families from being affected by it? What are some methods for reducing at least a short-term effect?
  • If I get COVID, and it’s a mild case, how do I balance self-isolation and lowering my family’s anxiety by showing them that I’m okay? Is there some sort of balance to breaking self-isolation or would it be better to show them from a distance that they don’t need to be as concerned?


Parents may also find this additional information helpful:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

More Webinars

It’s important to think about ways to manage your mental health. McLean is committed to providing mental health and self-care resources for all who may need them. You and your family may find these strategies from McLean experts helpful to feel mentally balanced in your everyday lives.

Sign up now for the next webinar in our Mental Health Webinar Series.