The Coronavirus is sparking anxiety in adults across the world, and for children, the fear can also bring confusion. As many kids are suddenly home from school, and many parents suddenly working from home, lots of questions can arise. With parents making hurried trips to the grocery store, repeatedly disinfecting household items, and watching the news on-edge, the little ones are bound to pick up on the new vibe.
But COVID-19 is unlike anything many of us have seen before, and even as adults, we can have a hard time understanding what exactly is happening. How can we explain it to the kids? And, more importantly, how can we explain it in a way that’s both serious but not frightening?
Stick to the Facts
When explaining COVID-19 to children, it’s essential to tell them the facts, without the sensationalism, the news can portray. When they ask why everyone is home or why they can’t go to their favorite restaurant, explain that there’s a virus going around, and you don’t want anyone in the family to get sick.
You don’t need to go into the death tolls, speculations about the economy, political aspects, or anything further. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it’s often difficult for small children to grasp complex concepts, and the second is that instilling fear isn’t likely to do any good. Instead, it’s more likely to incite hysteria.
Let them know that there are lots of people who are getting sick, that being inside is the safest place, and let them know that the situation is only temporary.
Let Them Know They’re Safe
Your children may begin to ask questions about their safety. They may ask if they will get sick, or if you will get sick, and what’s going to happen. Assure them that the reason they are at home is to avoid just that.
Explain that house cleaning is a good thing and that mom or dad not going into work is a good thing. They will respond more positively when you shed a brighter light on things.
Validate Their Feelings
Your children may still have fears after you explain COVID-19 to them. It’s completely natural, and many adults remain fearful as well. Validate their feelings. Let them know that it’s okay to be scared sometimes and help them find ways to cope.
If you need some extra help, look for new ways to soothe your child to sleep if their anxiety is leading to insomnia or nightmares. Find some ways to keep them busy during the day to keep their minds occupied by finding age-appropriate chores, for example. Or, start an arts and crafts routine to keep their creative juices flowing.
Teach Kids Best Practices
Along with sticking to the facts, explain to your children why it’s important to keep washing their hands. Let them know why you need to keep cleaning the house and make it into a game to see if they’ll join in.
You got this, GR8 parents.