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Helping kids through COVID-19

Check out our guide to supporting your child through the pandemic.

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If you are looking for more resources for your child, check out our COVID-19 resources page for articles, videos, fun activities and more!

How do children feel about COVID-19?

It’s very normal for children and young people to experience a range of emotions about the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 brings a lot of challenges for children. Some normal thoughts and feelings kids have reported to Kids Helpline include:

  • Fear of getting sick, or dying
  • Fear of family getting sick or dying
  • Fear of getting COVID and infecting others
  • Missing family and friends
  • Missing the way things used to be
  • Feeling relief about some cancelled plans as a result of lockdowns
  • Feeling excited about being involved in a 'big part of history'
  • Stress around learning from home
  • Struggling with lockdowns, including feeling depressed, lonely and grieving cancelled plans and milestones like holidays
  • Enjoying lockdowns for various reasons, e.g. avoiding school, more time with family and fear of losing that when lockdowns end
  • Anxiety around returning to school and 'everyday life' after lockdowns
  • Fear about their future, including anxiety or depression around COVID and the climate crisis


And many more! There are no right or wrong feelings to have - all feelings are valid and it's possible to have contradictory feelings at the same time.

Warning signs your child may be struggling

The COVID-19 pandemic can affect the mental health of kids in different ways. You know your child best, so any behaviours that are out of character for them might be a warning sign they need support. Here are some things to look out for:

Withdrawal from family and friends

Loss of interest in things they usually enjoy

Changes in eating or sleep patterns

Being irritable, moody or becoming upset easily

Self-harm or suicidal thoughts

Feelings of hopelessness, especially about the future

Ways to support your child

The most important and powerful thing in supporting your child is your relationship with them. Here are some ways you can build that relationship and open up the conversation around COVID-19:

  • Be aware of your own feelings. Kids can pick up on these and tell you what they think you want to hear.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Talking about COVID-19 isn't just one conversation. It's lots of little conversations.
  • Create 'space' to have conversations. Ideally, kids are more likely to open up when you are side-by-side (rather than face-to-face) and doing an activity together. More in-depth conversations are also easier for children during the day (as anxiety levels naturally go up at night time).
  • If you're concerned, be direct. It's never wrong to show concern. Asking a direct question, like "Are you feeling depressed?" or "Do you ever have thoughts about suicide?" can really open the conversation up. Skirting around an issue can make your child feel it's taboo and they may indirectly become fearful of being vulnerable/honest with you.
  • Be curious. Ask open questions and actively listen to understand more about your child’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Normalise and validate their feelings. This means letting them know that what they are feeling is normal, other people feel the same way and that there is nothing wrong with their feelings. For example, “It must be hard to have so many worries, but it’s normal to worry about thing never getting better.” 
  • Invite questions and answer as simply and honestly as possible. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know – let’s find out the answer to this together!”
  • Help them limit exposure to media. If they are younger, this might include reducing their exposure to the news. If they are older, it might be helping them to critically think about media messages they are exposed to or ensuring they are accessing reputable sources.
  • Problem-solve any concerns together. Children can be hesitant to share concerns as they are worried they may 'lose control' of what happens next (especially when adults get involved). Talking through strategies together can help your child improve their problem-solving skills and feel more empowered, and builds their trust in you as a safe place when things go wrong.
  • Help your child access professional support. Show your child how to use the Kids Helpline website, or call or start a WebChat together. This can take away their anxiety around getting help and also lets them know you are ok with them getting support from others.


If you are concerned that your child is more distressed than expected, is taking longer to recover or is struggling to cope, it’s important to seek professional support.

Need help supporting your child to return to normal?

There’s help available for parents if you’re looking for information and guidance. Try calling Parentline in your State or Territory for assistance.

You can also encourage your child to contact Kids Helpline if they need additional support and somebody to talk to about their concerns. They can give us a call, start a WebChat or send us an email anytime, for any reason.

This content was last reviewed 12/08/2021

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