Books to help children cope with Covid-related anxiety

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Doctor Regine Muradian created these books to help children deal with their emotions.

As health restrictions tighten, how can we help children to cope with this extraordinary and stressful situation? Clinical psychologist Regine Muradian provides some answers.

“When the pandemic started, we had to think about new ways of  carrying out consultations and of helping the children. That’s how Franky was born,” Regine explains. Regine’s pen brought the character of little Franky to life, in Franky et les abeilles de l’inquiétude (Franky and the worry bees). The insects represent all the negative thoughts that might go through a child’s mind. The young readers are asked to write down their fears, then turn them into positive statements. 

The book was a success. Soon after, a little girl named Francine was created, to teach young children to look for their ‘special talents’ and to stop comparing themselves to others.

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Expressing emotions

Regine Muradian lived for several years in Monaco before moving to Los Angeles. No coincidence then that she chose to contact the Principality to talk about her work.

“In September 2021, I presented Franky at a joint venture by Monaco’s Médiathèque and the Princess Grace Irish Library. I read the book in French and in English and I was taken aback by how attentive and participative the children were. It was incredible to see all these children talking about their emotions,” she recalls. Two months later, at her old school, the Institution François d’Assise-Nicolas Barré, she read her books to the pupils and teachers, who listened attentively. 

Regine Muradian presented Franky at the Monaco Meédiathèque © All rights reserved

“The teachers were surprised by how many questions the pupils had… They thought everything was fine, until the children started to voice all their concerns. Problems at home with parents, Covid… I suggested that they make a photocopy of one of the books’ pages so that each child could write down their emotions.”

Regine Muradian even provides free access to  videos in English on her website, to help teachers deal with their pupils’ anxiety.

The books, recommended from the age of five, are also available for sale on the site, in French and English.

Spotting the signs and finding solutions

By enabling the children to identify with the character of Franky and involving the parents, the books make it possible to get their feelings out in the open and discuss them.

Regine has made a list of warning signs for anxiety or depression to look out for:

  • Fear of bonding with others
  • Shutting themselves in their bedroom
  • Changes in appetite (more or less)
  • Outright refusal to do homework
  • Stomach ache
  • Procrastination
  • Bad mood, irritability
  • Sudden change or sudden loss of friends
  • Poorer grades/refusal to go to school
  • Poor attention span / difficulty concentrating

“Parents can help”, says the psychologist. “When faced with these signs, the priority is to set achievable goals. The main thing is to help the children to regroup and refocus. For example, you can try meditation sessions for relieving stress, or avoid shouting as much as possible and speak in a quiet voice. And above all we need to remember that our children cannot be perfect, we need to not always set the bar too high.”