So what exactly do we say to our kids about the coronavirus? And how?
As of now, your children have most definitely heard about the coronavirus if they weren’t aware before, from the constant chatter going on about it in the news and as well as between members of the family. There’s a possibility that they might even know of someone who has been quarantined or infected, and situations like these can bring in a ton of doubts and questions in their head. But you cannot deal with them in the same way as you would with an adult or a teenager.
So the question that arises is that how do I exactly talk to my child about the current pandemic that’s taking over the world without causing them unwarranted anxiety?
1. Look into what knowledge they have of the disease
With children, you may never know what’s going on in their heads. They might either be thinking of it as just a little flu or the apocalypse; there’s no in-between, and both of these situations can be extremely dangerous because the first one can lead them to break quarantine and act erratically, and the latter can cause them a certain degree of anxiety that they’re not equipped to deal with as of yet.
Get to know what they think about the entire situation, and then choose a course of action accordingly.
2. Lay emphasis on the importance of hygiene
Keep a note on their habits when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. Stay on top of them at all times when it comes to washing hands before and after meals. Let them know how important it is that they keep their surroundings clean and avoid them from touching their faces or playing on the floor for now.
They also shouldn’t be doing this only because you told them to do so, but because they know that it is crucial to their health and wellbeing.
3. Let them talk about their worries
A lot of their doubts, worries, or questions might seem irrational or irrelevant. But you need to keep this in mind that they are only just a child.
Listen to whatever they have to say, and make sure they know that you are listening. Give their queries your full attention and answer their doubts with patience.
Also, make sure that you talk to them in a language that is age-appropriate, along with dispersing only the knowledge that is essential for them to know in order to stay safe and protected. Don’t mention stuff like the mortality rate or the number of deaths, especially if the child is extremely young.
4. Share your own coping mechanisms
Due to their tender age and lack of social exposure, they might not know how to deal with such a high intensity, anxiety-inducing situation.
Try sharing with them your own coping mechanisms in order to help them through this unexpected transition.
Children are highly influenced by adults, and they might find it more adjusting to mimic what you are doing i.e. your ways to deal with the anxiety rather than coming up with some of their own. This will also make them feel more included and in control of their emotions, because they believe that adults moderately have control over everything.
5. Devise a proper routine
It can be difficult for a child to function out of a routine which they’ve become used to since the reasons behind the changes can be confusing to them.
Try setting up your own, in house routine for them which mirrors that of their school time table.
Ask them to do arts and crafts for one hour during the day, have a story reading session on the carpet with them, communicate with the parents of other kids and arrange video calls for your child to talk to their friends, etc
This can turn out to be a very good way of distracting them from thinking about the pandemic.
6. Don’t hesitate to ask for help
Parenting is not always easy, especially now that we have so many more things to worry about and look after.
There is no harm in seeking out tips and tricks from other parents on how to handle kids and toddlers during this time.
Online forums like Now&Me have a special section for children and parenting where you can ask the community for tips and at the same time provide some of your own as well!
Additionally, at the end of the day, the most important thing you need to do with your kid is to just spend as much time as you can together, as a family. You can do chores together, have movie nights, play board games, etc. That is of most importance; making sure your child doesn’t feel alone or left out.
Let them know that all of you are in this together!
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