Talking to Kids about COVID-19
Why have you stopped taking me for Tennis? I wanted to meet my new teacher for the next grade, why are schools shut from so many days? Why can’t I go and play with my friend in the park?
Well, along with numerous other questions, these questions hit my 5-year old hard. He had started to hear about some virus, and COVID-19 initially from our conversations, then on the news, we used to hear frequently at the start.
So, will we all die? Is the whole world coming to an end?
His tiny brain had started to process some raw and filtered information. This could have led to anxiousness, had we not catered openly to his questions! And I’m sure, we are not the only parents. Parents around the globe are facing this challenge in educating their children. Here I feel, no one way can be right, as it depends on the amount of information you are sharing, how is it being processed, what is your child watching, and also on their age.
This sudden shift from normal schools to Online classes, no sports to indoor games, meeting friends to simply e-socializing, has brought tremendous changes in kids’ attitudes. They are also grappling with behavioral changes, due to the stress which they are not aware of! Though we are all trying to answer their questions we do not know the way they are processing this information. Whether it is hurting them or helping them. The only way to judge is by looking at their emotional and behavioral changes in these crucial times.
How to talk to children about COVID-19 and Coronavirus?
Well, here is what we tried doing! It has been more than a month of lockdown and we feel somewhat stable wrt our kids’ emotional state. It’s not so that they will not have any meltdowns, they will certainly have, but how quickly they get out of those feelings will make you confident as a parent.
1. Understand (your kid’s):
It is of utmost importance that we are quick in understanding their emotional outbursts. As I mentioned in my post: Fun indoor activities for kids, they might cry out their hearts or show their anxiousness by keeping mum. They might show their anger by throwing away things, countering your (wise)words, refusing to eat or show more behavioral changes.
Here is one graph designed by Erin Leyba, which I found so relevant for us to understand. As a mom, I must admit that I have faced almost all of these forms of sadness.
What do we do? Let’s name our emotions and help kids identify them. Okay, I’m feeling sad and that’s okay. It’s a human emotion. Give them some time, it’s not right to budge them for any point then or try to prove that it is unreasonable to be sad.
Once they have their own calm space, hug them, and talk to them gently.
2. Answer their Questions:
The first thing I would say is, don’t be afraid to discuss COVID-19 and Coronavirus with them. Since kids know these terminologies, ever since the Lockdown happened, it is always wise to clear the half-baked knowledge that they have. The only point I would say is the relay age-appropriate information.
Trying to avoid their questions around COVID could make kids worry more. Acknowledge their fears and their feelings, and simultaneously reassure them.
3. Explain Kids in a child-friendly way:
Pass on only the information which a child can understand. Help them understand a bit about numerous microbes present around, our body’s immunity and ways to enhance it. Some really good comics, child-friendly videos had been circulating on social media for kids to understand. Take the help of such resources.
Further, be honest in sharing the right information, but in a reassuring manner. Read from authentic websites, like WHO, Unicef, and government resources. Don’t pass on the rumors to your child, rather let them know that all information available isn’t the truth.
Keep on reassuring your child, if you see them anxious and asking questions around COVID. Kids get worried, what if they or their parents catch COVID? Will they die? Answer and reassure them.
4. Show them the ways to protect themselves:
Answer and show them the ways they can keep themselves safe. When kids know the measures, they feel empowered and do their best to follow the guidelines. Let them know that washing their hands thoroughly (20seconds), staying indoors, not to get too close to people, using masks (if they need to accompany you for some urgency), are the prohibitory measures.
Teach them how to cover a cough/sneeze with their elbow.
5. Devise a good routine:
Since schools, daycares, extracurricular classes are shut, you need to structure the ay for your child. Make the use of this time constructively, with lots of happy activities. Sticking to a good routine always benefits a child. Ensure to include bedtime good reads, gratitude journalism as a part of your daily routine. Keep the surroundings happy, with whatever you and your child love to do.
But the crux is, to spread positivity and happiness in the surroundings, rather than spreading anxiety. Talk, talk, and keep on talking to kids, let them know that you are there for them always.
Look after your mental health too. Is COVID anxiety getting you? Here is an interesting article I read on coping with COVID anxiety.
How have you been coping with Kids’anxiety around COVID-19, share with us in the comments section? It can be helpful for other readers!
Stay Safe till then!