As a parent, it can be very confusing to figure out how to talk to your kids about COVID-19. Everywhere you look it seems that we are bombarded with information; some helpful, some not so much. Although it may seem like our kids are not paying attention, they are surely picking up on more of this than you would think. In fact, many of them are more susceptible to the media than adults because their brains are still too young to fully process what they are hearing, seeing and feeling. In light of these concerns, I have created the following list for parents to consider when talking to their children about COVID-19:
Take the time to connect
Spend some time sitting down with your kids to ask them what they know about COVID-19. Talk to them about their worries and anything they find confusing about what’s happening. Remind them they can ask you anything and that all of their feelings are allowed. Check in with them daily without other distractions. This one-on-one time with you can increase their sense of security.
Only share age appropriate information
You might be confused about what to say to your kids. Make sure your conversations about COVID-19 are appropriate for your child’s age and development. Try to ensure you are watching what you say and how you express your own fears or frustrations in front of your children. Find time after the children have gone to bed or when they are out of ear-shot to discuss your concerns and fears with others. Limit their access to social media in order to monitor what types of information they are receiving. Keep the atmosphere as positive as possible.
Make this a learning opportunity
Use this as a time to remind and help your children with healthy habits like good hand washing skills and not touching their face. They may even enjoy helping with some of the small household tasks like cleaning off door handles and counters.
Ensure your kids they are safe
Remind your kids that they are safe. Ensure them that no matter what, you are willing and able to meet their needs and that your family is doing everything you can to get back to normal soon including limiting in-person contact with others, washing hands, and staying healthy.
Anyone can get cabin fever when stuck in the house; your kids included. It’s amazing how much of a difference a little fresh air and some time spent outdoors can make for all members of your family. Take a hike, a walk or run around the yard. You can look for neat rocks along the way or make an educational game out of finding something in nature for each letter in the alphabet. Your kids will burn off some steam and will benefit from the healing nature of the outdoors. Of the best ways to connect with your kids is while moving or playing together.
Ask for help if you need it
If you or your children are struggling with stressors brought by COVID-19 or would like some extra support, please ask for help. Many counselors are providing tele-therapy options. Families First Learning Lab can help connect you to a licensed counselor or therapist if you feel this could be helpful for you or members of your family.
Tips brought to you by our Parent Educator, Mary Zimmerman