With the advent of coronavirus, so much has changed in our lives in a matter of days!
If all this is new to us adults who are barely able to gauge what’s going on across the world, imagine the impact it is having on our children, who are struggling to grasp the situation!
All of a sudden, their schools have closed, their schedules are messed up, playgrounds and parks aren’t functioning, all their extra art/music/sports/dance classes are put on hold, playing outdoors is a no-no, and they also don’t get to meet their friends.
All of a sudden, they see people wearing masks, they’re locked inside — and it can be quite overwhelming for the little minds to take!
At a time like this, we need to maintain a healthy channel of communication with our children — one that is reassuring and open!
So here are 3 tips to have a healthy conversation with your child:
Find out what they already know:
A lot of children (especially those in school) would have already heard from their friends, seen discussions on news channels, watched videos online, or read a forward about a mysterious virus called COVID-19.
But with so much misinformation around, and with limitless access to the internet, you need to be aware of what your child has already grasped and then correct it if it’s misleading. Be open and talk to them about how not everything they consume is actually accurate — and some might just be rumours!
Validate their feelings, understand their fears if anything is bothering them, and answer their questions to the best of your ability — in fact, not talking about the virus can be more worrisome for the child!
Share age-appropriate information with them:
For 2-6 year olds – Children at this age cannot think logically and are more likely to go by your non-verbal cues and emotions. Ensure your worries are kept aside when you talk to your child.
Compare the virus to that of the common cold and explain in simple terms why we need to stay at home to be safe.
Open all channels of communication and be approachable so that your child can talk to you or share their feelings at any time of the day.
For 7-12 year olds – As a parent, you are the filter between what is going on across the world and your child. For children of this age group, do your best to provide honest and fact-based information as much as possible by negating the “scary” or “dangerous” bits. You can also make sure they consume less of the news on TV since it may be too overwhelming for them.
Talk to your child about taking preventive measures and safety tips since they are likely to understand how contagious diseases work.
Explain to them why schools are closed and why we all need to stay at home to defeat the virus.
Here’s a description of COVID-19 for kids by the Centre For Disease Control And Prevention:
– COVID-19 is the short name for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it.
– Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be ok, especially kids, but some people might get pretty sick.
– Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.
Additionally, you can also use kid-friendly illustrations to explain the coronavirus, like this one >>
Children always understand non-verbal cues! As a parent, you must acknowledge your child’s feelings in a calm manner and reassure them.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, “Children may need extra attention from you and may want to talk about their concerns, fears and questions. So it’s important that you make time and listen to them.”
Use creative channels such as storytelling to reassure them that however things turn out, you are there together to fight it.
Moreover, talk to them about the superstars — nurses and doctors who are working night and day to fight the virus and keep patients safe!
Let’s also remember to avoid the blame-game on how the virus originated! Let’s not put forth stereotypes or negativity in our child’s minds because this is the time for humanity!
Tell your child that they can be a corona warrior!
According to Jamie Howard, a child psychologist from Child Mind Institute, “children feel empowered when they know what to do to keep themselves safe”.
Explain to your child how they can be a corona warrior by taking preventive measures every day to prevent the germs from spreading and defeat the virus.
You can make this fun and interactive by making a DIY sword and shield — or even a family activity where all of you practise this together!
Fun Fact: Make sure you are a model warrior too! Your child learns a lot by just observing you 🙂
According to Harvard Medical School, kids and grownups can try their best to stay healthy by practising these healthy behaviours:
- Sneeze or cough into tissues (and throw them away) or sneeze or cough into your elbow. This helps keep germs from travelling and making other people sick.
- Wash your hands with soap and water at the same times you usually do, like after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose.When you wash your hands, remember to count slowly to 20. (Parents can help by singing the ABCs or “Happy Birthday” with their children the number of times it takes for 20 seconds to pass. This helps children remember to wash for a sufficient amount of time.)
Another important point – be cautious of the water you use during these times!
- Try to keep your hands out of your mouth, eyes, and nose.
Engage your child actively at home:
Children love routines:
So stick to one! Build an exciting timetable — make sure you add a balance of physical activities and quiet time too! Structured days (especially for Monday to Friday, if their schools are closed) with set bedtimes and playtimes can help your child by adding a feeling of predictability and self-discipline.
Add a dose of fun learning:
Engage your child in hands-on board games, puzzles, riddles, art & craft activities and keep the screens away as much as possible! For free templates and activities, just click this link >>
Physical fitness to the rescue:
Since most children cannot step out, make sure you add physical activities to your child’s schedule every day! Indoor exercises are a lot of fun and can keep your kids moving — be it simple warm-up exercises, dance workouts, bunny hopping, balloon badminton or even an obstacle course!
Quality family time:
Use this period to bond as a family! Play games together, cook meals, share stories and make the best memories together! Stay safe!