As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shift everybody’s lives, your children must have many questions for you. And as a parent, you want to keep your children involved and informed at all times so they wouldn’t feel left out in the conversation. But it can be hard to find the right balance of giving information and overwhelming them with the truth. So how can you talk with your children about the recent pandemic? Here are some tips you can use.
Talk To Your Children Calmly And Reassuringly
According to Jacqueline Sperling, Ph.D., “It is important to model calmness when talking about the virus. Children will look to you to see how afraid they should be.” Therefore, if you’re trying to speak to them on why they can’t go outside and need to take precautions during this time, do it calmly and with a composed attitude.
Explain to your children that young people like them are less likely to catch the virus. Reassure them that this situation is only temporary and that many professionals are working hard to help get people’s lives back to normal. Make them feel safe and notify them that the people they care about are safe, too, since children tend to worry more about others than themselves.
Be Truthful And Allow Them To Lead The Discussion
Don’t use complex answers to their questions. As much as possible, make it concise and straightforward so that your children can quickly grasp the information you’re giving them. Too much information can create more fear and anxiety. Only provide honest responses. Your children also deserve to know how they can keep themselves safe, and if any of their loved ones are at risk of getting the virus.
Only provide information that your children asked. Allow them to lead the conversation. It can help you level with their cognitive maturity and avoid giving scary details that they may not be curious about. It’s okay if your children don’t seem interested in the pandemic. Do also prevent yourself from using language that may seem harmful to other races or cultures to avoid generating hate to particular groups of people.
If there are questions that you don’t know the answer to, then research about it. Go to reliable health organizations’ websites to get facts like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Give Them Responsibility
Giving your children power and responsibility allows them to do better and make decisions that are beneficial to others. Make them feel in control by providing them specific things to do. For example, inform them that they should wash their hands for 20 seconds or as long as it takes to finish the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Tell them that they should get lots of sleep, eat healthy meals, and exercise to avoid contracting the disease. Be a good role model and perform these tasks as well.
You can also inform them why many people seem to be wearing masks and prevent getting physically close together. Tell them that it helps to stop the spread of the virus and that they should practice it. Remind them to clean their devices like cell phones or tablets often or to not cough or sneeze without a mask or handkerchief. And if they have to do so, it’s much better to do it with their elbows.
Tell Them That It’s Okay Not To Feel Okay
Tell your children that their emotions are valid and that it’s okay to feel stressed. Starting this conversation early on prevents them from thinking that there’s something wrong about feeling such things, which is not the case. Recognizing these overwhelming emotions and understanding that challenging times will pass can build resilience as they grow older.
It can help if you make yourself accessible and ask how they often feel so they can open their feelings to you much more relaxed. Some children can easily express how they feel while some don’t. So it will be natural if you continuously check on them and give them space to share their fears. Let them know that they can always come to you for answers and confide when things are getting scary.
Your children will need your warmth and love, especially at a trying time like this. The following days will be different and hard for all of us as we go through the “new normal.” And as a parent, you, too, have your share of doubts and anxiety. Take care of yourself. You and your family will get through this. Have faith. Use this time to keep your family closer and stronger together.