How to talk to our kids about the Coronavirus? See 7 tips
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Hello everyone, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, thousands (or millions) of schools across the globe have been closed or are scheduled to close soon, and probably a considerable part of all working families have both parents working full time. Consequently, those parents have been asked to work remotely, this means extra challenges when trying to balance the demands of work life and home life while this pandemic issue remains a concern.
With kids at home, their routines have been disrupted, their extracurricular activities cancelled and unfortunately, they are not playing with their friends; I know it is a shame and I really feel pity for them. In our house, for example, I can say that we are adapting ourselves to a new routine, by using our home office/kitchen/living room as a coworking space, and it includes my child, as he is studying at home and keeping the patterns of his learning activities.
But, let's get back to the main topic of this post, there is news about the new and deadly virus everywhere, with updates coming to digital devices, and being shown on television, can send a repeated rush of terror through young minds and have negative consequences. For example, Dr Jamie M. Howard, PhD (senior clinical psychologist in the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute) say that it is important to emphasize that children, should not be inundated with constant updates about this issue.
I found some tips on how to bring up the epidemic in a way that will be reassuring and not make kids more worried than they already may be, as a member of Children's Screen Time Action - Network, I received these valuable pieces information from them, thus I would like to share these tips with you, please bear in mind that the source is Child Mind Institute (see the original article written by Rachel Ehmke). Hope you enjoy these tips ;)
Don’t be afraid to discuss the coronavirus. Most children will have already heard about the virus or seen people wearing face masks, so parents shouldn’t avoid talking about it. Not talking about something can actually make kids worry more. Look at the conversation as an opportunity to convey the facts and set the emotional tone.
Be developmentally appropriate. Don’t volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming. Instead, try to answer your child’s questions. Do your best to answer honestly and clearly. It’s okay if you can’t answer everything; being available to your child is what matters.
Take your cues from your child. Invite your child to tell you anything they may have heard about the coronavirus, and how they feel. Give them ample opportunity to ask questions. You want to be prepared to answer (but not prompt) questions. Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies.
Deal with your own anxiety. “When you’re feeling most anxious or panicked, that isn’t the time to talk to your kids about what’s happening with the coronavirus,” warns Dr. Domingues. If you notice that you are feeling anxious, take some time to calm down before trying to have a conversation or answer your child’s questions.
Be reassuring. Children are very egocentric, so hearing about the coronavirus on the news may be enough to make them seriously worry that they’ll catch it. It’s helpful to reassure your child about how rare the coronavirus actually is (the flu is much more common) and that kids actually seem to have milder symptoms.
Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. An important way to reassure kids is to emphasize the safety precautions that you are taking. Jamie Howard, PhD, a child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, notes, “Kids feel empowered when they know what to do to keep themselves safe.” We know that the coronavirus is transmitted mostly by coughing and touching surfaces. The CDC recommends thoroughly washing your hands as the primary means of staying healthy. So remind kids that they are taking care of themselves by washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the length of two “Happy Birthday” songs) when they come in from outside, before they eat, and after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or using the bathroom. If kids ask about face masks, explain that the experts at the CDC say they aren’t necessary for most people. If kids see people wearing face masks, explain that those people are being extra cautious.
Stick to routine. “We don’t like uncertainty, so staying rooted in routines and predictability is going to be helpful right now,” advises Dr. Domingues. This is particularly important if your child’s school or daycare shuts down. Make sure you are taking care of the basics just like you would during a spring break or summer break. Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy.
Keep talking. Tell kids that you will continue to keep them updated as you learn more.
My final words: I am building my hopes on our society, that we are getting through those hard times altogether. And will come out stronger and better human beings. I hope you found this post useful and informative. I really need your support, as this a self-funding project, so I kindly ask you (if you can or if you wish) to please share this post and subscribe to our mailing list!
References: To see the sources of this article, please click on each link within the text. See you, guys!
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