COVID Tests and Kids: Managing the anxiety

Recently, my household hasn’t been very well. It’s been tissues, coughs and all the fun stuff in between.

Some of you may not know but if your kid is sick at school, it’s mandatory for them to be COVID tested before they can return to school. As we all know, kids and the general sniffles go hand in hand!

Testing is now such a part of life that my son was chatting to his friends about it at school. One boy explained that the test was awful and scary, and of course, this set my son down a path of utter fear.

So, what do you do when your child is so anxious about being tested? How do we explain that, yes, they are uncomfortable but not painful or scary?

What should you expect a Covid-19 Test?

Firstly, you and your family will most likely have to wear a mask. You will be greeted by lovely healthcare workers who will take all your details. Just be aware, they will be wearing full masks and protective gear so prepare your children for that! Remind kids, that under all that funny face covering is a very kind person who is there to help.

When it’s your turn, you will be asked into a room where they will show you a long, skinny stick that is used for the test.  They will then ask you to take your mask down and open your mouth while they take a sample from the back of your throat at your tonsils. They will likely do both sides and count to 5 each time. This might feel a bit tickly and you might want to cough when it is finished.

The health worker will then want to take a sample from your nose – this is where it gets a little weird – but again it doesn’t hurt, it just feels a bit funny and weird. They will put the stick in both nostrils one after the other, for 5 seconds each side. This will probably make your eyes water a little bit and you might feel like sneezing. The health worker will give you a tissue for that.

And guess what – that’s it the test is over! And it’s time to go home and hang out there until your results come back.

How to deal with your child’s testing anxiety?

  1. Take deep breaths – Remind them that deep breathing calms the body and having a calm body will make the test much more comfy.  You might want to use the square breathing skill that we have shared in VitaMinds recently.
  2. Beware the power of your words – Use confident statements to help the family stay calm e.g. “it will be over quickly”, “it will just be a bit uncomfortable”, “it won’t hurt you”.
  3. Take a comfort toy – Having a cuddly friend can provide comfort during the test.  We left ours in the car for after, just in case we weren’t allowed to bring it in but having him in the car was helpful on the way to and from the test.

COVID-19 has had such an impact on all our lives, and it feels unfair that our children have to live through this. As parents, we are all faced with many stressful situations and we live with the constant fear for our children – but just remember, you are doing great!

With some simple calming actions, we can help keep ourselves and our family sane during this madness!