The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a serious health concern for many of us right now. The news is filled everywhere, from the front page of newspapers to conversations with families and friends.
As a parent, I know I am not the only one feeling unsure and overwhelmed with everything happening in the world right now. Some of you might be wondering how to bring up the topic in a way that can be reassuring and not make your kids more worried then they might already be now.
I knew when the virus became a major discussion in our home that I needed to be the more loud and reassuring voice my children heard than from others.
So, how can we as parents help our children manage their fears?
Here are 9 tips to use when talking to your kids about the coronavirus.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About It
It is most likely by now your children will already have heard about the coronavirus (COVID-19). They might have seen people wearing faces masks or overheard conversations talking about it. If you haven’t had a conversation yet about COVID-19, don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Not talking about something your children can often make them worry more. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to give your children accurate facts about the virus and to create a comforting safe place for them. Your goal in discussing the topic to your children to feel informed and help them feel more reassuring about the current situation than what they might be hearing from outside sources like their friends, online information, or the news.
2. Share Age-Appropriate Facts
Depending on the age of your children, you will want to make sure you convey terms that they can understand. For instance, you can use the example of comparing COVID-19 to other viruses, such as influenza and talking about how hand hygiene is the most important thing to help prevent the virus.
3. Let Them Lead the Discussion
Allow your children to tell you anything they may have heard about the coronavirus. They may even want to share their feelings and thoughts on the current situation as well. Give them enough time to ask questions and to discuss the topic. Be prepared to answer questions about the virus and the current situation. Answer questions only they ask to keep things simple and worry-free.
4. Be Reassuring
Hearing about the virus may make your children seriously worry. It’s helpful to reassure your children that they are safe. Inform them that there are a lot of health care professionals out there, such as doctors and nurses, working hard to keep everyone healthy.
5. Talk About Safety
A way you can reassure your kids about the situation is talking about the safety precautions you are going to be taking. Letting your children know how they can be safe and the steps they can take to do this will help them feel in control and empowered.
6. Stick to a Routine
While a lot of our normal routines have become very different, you can try and establish a new routine that best suits your family’s needs. A new routine might be frightening for some of your kids so allow them plenty of time to adapt to the new routine. Make sure you are continuing to take care of the basic things you would do during the day. Structured days that include regular mealtimes and bedtimes will help your children be happy and keep healthy.
7. Model a Positive Behavior
Modeling a positive behavior about the topic and current situation will help ease any worries your children might have. It is also a way for your children to stick to following safety precautions, such as hand hygiene and social distancing.
8. Keep the Conversation Going
It’s a great idea to keep your children inform about any new information. Tell your kids you will continue to keep them updated. Letting them know that there is a line of communication open can help them know they can always come to you about anything you might be feeling or thinking.
9. Take Care of Yourself Too
It’s no secret that we parents are shouldering a lot, especially how anxiety producing the current situation is right now. Be sure during this time you take the time to look after yourself. Too much discouraging news can be bad for our own health as much as its bad for our kids too. Look for ways that help you de-stress and feel more relaxed. Exercising and a self-care routine will greatly help you with this. Do things that make you feel good and help your calm your own nerves down.
While the days ahead will be different and sometimes difficult for us, remember this doesn’t need to be a bad time for your family. Take the time to reflect and make positive changes in your new routine. Slow down and spend time together as a family by playing games or other fun activities. Take care of yourself by doing things you love to do.
Remember, we will get through this!