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How to help children with COVID-19 worries

Published: 8 January 2021 at 14:25

Children washing their hands at a sink

ARU psychologists to offer practical advice about contamination fears

Psychologists from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) will discuss the issue of children’s COVID-19 contamination fears – and offer practical advice about how parents and carers can help – during a free public online event on Thursday, 14 January (7-8pm).

There has been a rise in reports of mental distress amongst people of all ages since the start of the pandemic. A study from the US published in October found that a sample of young adults showed a rise in washing symptoms, coronavirus-related anxiety, and a considerable increase in fears of being contaminated, as well as behaviours directed towards feeling safer.

Building on their own academic research and clinical experience, Dr Sharon Morein, Dr Debora Vasconcelos e Sa and Dr Dora Bernardes will provide examples of the kind of concerns some young people may express, discuss what can be done to help as well as what should be avoided, and answer questions from the online audience.

Dr Morein, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at ARU, said:


“Concerns and fears about being ill or contaminated, or infecting others, can cause considerable distress as well as lead to excessive washing, cleaning and avoiding everyday situations that the individual perceives to be dangerous.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures there are reports of some distressful contamination fears in young people, and it is common for those with such fears to seek reassurance and help from carers, relatives and friends.

“Carers offer front-line support but can also aggravate the situation by offering excessive assistance and over-assurance, which can be counterproductive in the long-term. Our talk will tackle these issues and offer practical support for anyone experiencing these problems.”


The online public event on 14 January is free to attend but places must be reserved at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/helping-your-child-with-contamination-related-concerns-tickets-130574641267