As a parent, we’re in a stressful time. We’re dealing with our own anxieties regarding coronavirus or Covid-19. We worry about our children and ourselves health-wise, and many people are also grappling with a loss of income right now, in addition to a general sense of uncertainty.
We may be caring for older parents who are at risk of severe complications from the virus, and schools are closed, so parents are struggling to find childcare if they’re still going to work.
All of these things are challenging to say the least, and as a mom, you may also need to answer questions your kids have about what’s going on and quell their fears.
It’s impossible to avoid talking to your kids about Covid-19 right now, as they see the effects since they aren’t in school and are likely stuck at home.
The following are some tips to have a conversation with your kids about what’s going on.
Don’t Avoid the Topic
Again, kids can see that something is going on if they’re school-aged, even if they don’t know what. We may want to avoid scaring our kids, but it’s better to talk openly and honestly.
Avoiding the topic can actually be more stressful for kids in many cases if they’re seeing things on the news, or seeing people out and about with masks and gloves on. Kids pick up on more than you may realize, so being upfront and open with them can help your kids be more informed so they’re not guessing what’s going on and potentially worrying themselves in the process.
However, you do want to be mindful of what’s developmentally appropriate for your child. For example, don’t go overboard telling them about the virus, but give them an overview and answer the questions they may have.
Follow Your Child’s Lead
If your child wants to talk in more detail, follow their lead but don’t necessarily be the one to prompt them to ask certain questions. Your kids will come to your when they’re ready.
If you’re feeling especially worried at the moment, wait to talk to your child until you feel more calm.
Help Your Child Feel a Sense of Control
During a scary time, children, and all of us in reality, want to have a sense of control or feel like we’re dealing with things proactively.
You can help your child have this sense by going over what you’re doing to stay safe and healthy and encouraging them to be active in everything that you’re doing.
Your children’s routines are likely being uprooted in a very significant way right now, so work on developing a new routine they can stick to. If you’re going to be doing learning at home, try to structure your days a bit and follow the same bedtimes and mealtimes that you would normally if at all possible.
Some of the best things any of us can do during the Covid-19 outbreak and things that children can also do, such as handwashing and getting enough rest.
Be Mindful of TV and Social Media
Many of us may have the news on in the background, or we may scroll social media while our kids our nearby. Our kids may even use social media on their own, but we have to be cognizant of what our kids are seeing and whether it could be making their fear or anxiety worse.
It’s very important that kids aren’t inundated with information about the coronavirus because it can feel like it’s taking over their life.
There is also the potential for kids to see things that aren’t true.
Be mindful of what types of media your kids are consuming.
When we’re upset or feeling stressed or out of control, we might want to blame others for what’s going on. Don’t stereotype any group of people, and don’t place blame.
Be aware of your negative words that could shape your kids’ views and make them want to lash out and blame also.
Finally, keep the lines of communication open. Your kids may not want to talk just yet, so wait until they’re ready. They might want to talk a bit but maybe not go into detail or they may develop more questions later on. Let them deal with things and process them in their own time and come to you gradually with questions or concerns as they’re ready. It’s a tough time for everyone but also a time to be with our families and connect with them, and having healthy conversations about what’s going on is part of that.