Children pick up on their parents’ energy and moods, and they understand something is happening in the world right now. If it hasn’t already, the initial excitement of taking a break from school will wear off, and the lack of routine can be distressing for some children.
If explaining this pandemic to your kids feels like a daunting task, you’re in good company! But have no fear, we’ve broken down five simple tips to approaching the subject with your little ones.
1. See what they know
Before answering questions, ask them what they know to gauge how much information they already have. This is a good opportunity to clarify any myths or rumors they may be worried about.
If your child hasn’t brought up the subject yet, touch base and ask if there’s anything they want to talk about. This outbreak is going to last a while, so one talk will likely not be enough. Open up the conversation and let them know you’re available to answer questions and talk about their feelings whenever they need to.
2. Keep it simple
Before giving any type of answer, evaluate where your child or children are emotionally. Each kid processes and deals with information differently, so try to tailor your responses to them individually. Use words, phrases, and examples that fit their age and development. Focus on answering exactly what they ask honestly and in simple terms, without going into more detail than necessary.
If you need a place to start, use these key facts to build off of: “COVID-19 is a virus caused by germs, and we can prevent the spread of germs by staying home, washing our hands properly, disinfecting our space, and coughing and sneezing into our sleeve.”
3. Validate them
This situation is new and unknown to everyone, so it’s only natural for children to feel anxious, fearful, and sad, just as adults do. They may have a different set of stresses, but they are valid, nonetheless. Reassure them that what they’re feeling is totally natural and that you, and others, feel the same way sometimes.
4. Comfort them
Every child will cope with the answers they receive in different ways. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s the healing powers of a nice, big hug. Comfort your child in the best way you know how and try showing extra patience during this time. Explain to them that staying home is for their safety and that you will always protect them.
5. Control the narrative
A simple way to mitigate your child’s emotions is to censor the way they’re getting their information. Receiving information in a calm and loving way from a parent can significantly help a child’s outlook on the situation.
Turning on the news right now can be overwhelming even for adults, so although it’s informative, it’s best you refrain from letting children watch. And if they have access to the internet, it may be a good idea to monitor what they’re looking at, as conspiracy theories and horror stories circulate the web. Additionally, try to hold off on talking about COVID-19 with a spouse, older child, or over the phone if young ears are in the room.
We hope you found these tips helpful! Be sure to share this article with other parents as everyone tries to navigate through this time together.
Alexandria Emergency Hospital hopes you and your family are staying safe and well! If any type of medical need arises, we’re open and here for you 24/7, 365 days a year.
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Alexandria Emergency Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on Alexandria Emergency Hospital, or any of our concierge-level medical facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.