We’ve all been hearing about Corona virus, aka COVID-19, pretty much everywhere. It’s more or less all we’re talking about right now. But should you be discussing it with your kids? If I had to guess I’d say they’ve probably already heard about it. Before most schools were closed I’d bet the students, as well as the adults, were chatting about it. I’d also guess that if you take them with you while running errands they will definitely notice that something is different. They are also probably asking why they aren’t in school anymore, can’t play with their friends, and cant leave the house.
It might be impossible to keep this from your kids, and depending on their age(s) you should probably give them some insight as to what is going on. If you do choose to discuss COVID-19 with your children here are some tips.
Be Developmentally Appropriate
What does this mean? Well, you probably wouldn’t talk quantum physics with your 6 year old now would you? No, because it wouldn’t be developmentally appropriate. Some subjects just aren’t meant to be discussed with children before their brain has developed enough to be able to understand it. How will you know what stage your child is at? Just ask! Try asking your children what they already know, or think they know, about Corona virus. This will help you gauge what they have taken in already and what they still have questions about. If you start to explain the suspected origins of this pandemic to your 5 year old you might as well be talking gibberish. Find out what your child already knows, clarify any misconceptions, and offer a little bit more information on the topic.
You’ll really need to be tuned in to your child during this conversation. Watch them for signs of anxiety, uncertainty, fear etc. You will want to avoid instilling these negative emotions in them during this conversation. Instead of leaving them with more questions, try to answer some of theirs. If you start to witness your child becoming fearful, overwhelmed, or anxious you should end the conversation in a calm manner. Try to eliminate some of their fears of uncertainty by answering as many questions as you can.
Handle Your Own Anxiety
You need to be sure you’ve managed, or at least controlled, your own anxieties before having this conversation. Let’s be honest, we are all frightened. We are all anxious. However, we don’t need to transfer those worries to our children. Be sure that the timing is right. Have a clear head and a calm demeanor before starting this talk. If your child senses that you are scared their fear will only increase. Try to remain as calm as possible during this talk. If you feel as if you are slipping, you can always take a break and tell them you can finish the conversation later.
One idea, if you’re very prone to anxiety and have trouble masking the emotion, is have your child write down any questions they have about Corona virus. Tell them you will look over the questions and then have a discussion in the near future. This way you can preview their concerns and have time to plan an appropriate response.
Focus on Safety
Be sure that during the conversation you are emphasizing what you and the family are doing to remain safe during this time. Tell them the strategies they can personally use to stay healthy. You can even give your child a job or a task. Giving them some responsibility in this ordeal may help them remain calm. For example, tell your child you really need their help to remember to wash your hands after you get home from grocery shopping. Ask them to be the “Washer Reminder.” Each time someone from the family comes in from outside the house your child can help remind them to go wash up. Another idea is to have your child, depending on their age, help you make masks for those in need. Many organizations are supplying the necessary materials, such as fabric and elastic, to make masks for medical personnel. Can your child help? This may help them feel more in control because they will actively be helping the community.
Encourage your child to come to you with other concerns as the days and weeks pass. It’s probable that as time goes on they will end up having more and more questions. Be sure that they know that they can come to you whenever they need to talk. It’s your job to help them remain calm and help them feel safe during this time.
It’s definitely your decision if you want to have this conversation with your child or not. However, as I previously stated, I’d bet they’ve already heard a lot about it and are currently wondering quite a bit about it. Opening up the lines of communication between you and your child will help to ease their worries and uncertainties. Encourage that they get involved, by washing their hands, social distancing, or providing aide to the community. This is the perfect time to teach your kids that sometimes we have to do for others. If used correctly, this pandemic can be a great learning tool to teach your child many life necessities.