*Tips in talking with your child about COVID-19.
The first few days at home may be treated like a new adventure, but as children continue to miss school, questions and concerns are sure to arise. Parents are shouldering a lot. Here are some tips when working through these challenging times.
- Reassure your children that they are safe.- Kids may be somewhat immune to this virus, but they are very aware of the anxiety that surrounds it. Be careful that your tone and conversations do not reveal panic. Stay calm. Assure children that this is temporary and that they, and their caregivers, are going to be just fine.
- Be honest with your child.- You know your child and what they can handle. Too much information is not helpful. Keep your answers simple and factual. Let your child lead the discussion and ask what is important to them. Explain that the coronavirus is a germ that gets in your body and makes you sick. Washing our hands and staying away from large groups of people helps keep us way from that germ.
- Allow your child to be part of the solution.- Children can help their families stay safe by being the safety “police”. This gives them the power to help keep everyone safe. Children can sing a song while each person washes their hands for 20 seconds (Happy Birthday, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, Jesus Loves Me). Your child can make and send cards to people confined to nursing homes or hospitals. They can help to wipe down surfaces such as door knobs or appliance handles. They can remind everyone to cover their coughs. Giving your child this opportunity to protect their family and make them more responsible can help alleviate their fears.
- Help children understand their frustration.- Children are missing their normal routine. Schools, dance, karate or sports activities have all been canceled. There may be more tantrums or noncompliance. Acknowledge your child’s feelings with words like “It is so frustrating not going to dance since you have been working hard on your routine.” “I know that you worked hard on that project.”
Children will miss their friends. If possible allow them to call, email or Skype or Facetime with their peers. Virtual play dates can help with the frustration of seeing the same people all the time. Sensory activities such as playing with or petting the animals, dancing or looking at books can offer a calming effect. Giving in to screen time may distract your child for a moment, but may prove to be more frustrating when this activity is discontinued.
- Keep a routine in place- Everyone functions better with a routine. It provides a sense of security in knowing what to expect. Try to establish a new routine that includes academic and physical activities as well as down time. Using a calendar or a picture schedule may be helpful.
Take care of your family and yourself. Do things that are interactive and fun but don’t forget to do things to help you remain calm.
We are in this together. -Glenda-
*Adapted from “10 Tips for talking about COVIS-19 with your kids” Wendy Thomas Russel