It\u2019s common for kids to be afraid of things they don\u2019t understand, especially if that \u201cthing\u201d\u00a0is a disease that shut down the entire country. It doesn\u2019t matter if the\u00a0immediate threat seems distant \u2014\u00a0it will live a long time in the mind of a child. Medical professionals say\u00a0that\u00a0the best thing\u00a0parents can\u00a0do to help ease fear and stress\u00a0within the family\u00a0is to be honest with your little ones\u00a0and have age-appropriate conversations. That way,\u00a0they have a general knowledge that helps them understand why they have to wash their hands all the time or why they can\u2019t play with their friends. \u201cKids are a lot\u00a0more savvy\u00a0than we give them credit for,\u201d\u00a0says\u00a0Becky Dixon, MD,\u00a0a Riley Children\u2019s Health pediatric hospitalist.\u00a0\u201cThey\u2019re experiencing a lot of what adults are experiencing. This is magnified for kids who already have high anxiety.\u201d To ease these challenges, Dixon says it\u2019s important that parents don\u2019t ignore or minimize the fear.\u00a0 \u201cAll people feel some relief from expressing their fear or anxieties,\u201d\u00a0she\u00a0says.\u00a0\u201cSo, get it out in the open. Ask open-ended questions: What are you worried about? What do you think is great about homeschooling and what worries you about this time?\u00a0If open-ended questions don\u2019t resolve the situation, it\u2019s a good time to contact\u00a0the\u00a0child\u2019s doctor.\u201d Doctors say\u00a0that\u00a0sometimes the fear manifests itself in other ways,\u00a0such as inability to sleep.\u00a0Dixon suggests\u00a0that\u00a0families try things to help with sleep hygiene.\u00a0 \u201cGo to sleep\u00a0at the\u00a0same time and get up at same time each day,\u201d she says.\u00a0\u201cAlso,\u00a0get some sort of physical activity. It\u2019s\u00a0really tempting to stay inside all day. Instead, go for a walk, play in the front yard, just spend time outside. Avoid screen time at least an hour\u00a0before bed. Shower, brush teeth and read a story \u2014\u00a0keep\u00a0the\u00a0same\u00a0routine and\u00a0schedule.\u201d Consistency is key, especially for children who have ADHD or other behavioral challenges. \u201cKeep those tools that have already been laid down,\u201d Dixon says. \u201cIf they\u2019re on medications, now\u2019s a good time to talk to your physician to see if meds should change. Do not take time off from your prescriptions.\u201d Dixon adds that there are non-prescription ways to help too, such as a bouncy ball they can sit on, or a piece of Velcro attached to the desk that occupies that part of the brain that prevents them from focusing. Some families also choose meditation, coloring and other activities to help them focus on the positive. For some, the emotional challenges can be compounded with the death of a loved one. \u201cIt can be even worse now because COVID-19 has made it such that we can\u2019t have some of the normal closures, such as seeing families in the hospital or at funerals,\u201d Dixon says. \u201cWe need to give them time to grieve and express themselves. Revisit happy memories by talking about them or look through photo albums and scrapbooks. It can even be a verbal journal.\u201d For some children, their worry might be about a birthday party being canceled. In those instances, look for creative ways to celebrate. Some families host drive-by parties, while others do video conference calls so their kiddos can see family and friends and know they are OK. The Children\u2019s Museum of Indianapolis hosts themed virtual birthday parties. The first one was an 80s-themed dance party;\u00a0future parties will include various themes, such as disco or country western. The bottom line: Try to keep as much consistency as possible,\u00a0and find creative ways to replace the things we can no longer do and make the new ways seem like a fun adventure. When you feel it\u2019s safe for your family to get back out there into the community, it\u2019s important for them to go to familiar places that bring them joy,\u00a0like The Children\u2019s Museum,\u00a0and places\u00a0where they can release all that pent-up energy,\u00a0like Riley Children\u2019s Health Sports Legends Experience.