There is no denying that the times we live in are difficult, and even more so as a parent. Talking about Covid-19 can be complicated to say the least but it is so important for us to have this discussion. Kids may be experiencing all kinds of feelings about the words they may be hearing for the first time, like pandemic. Any kid is paying attention when schools are being canceled and Disneyland closing. Here are some simple tips to help when talking to your kids about Covid-19.
1. Have the Conversation
We can’t ignore the reality of our times. We need to sit down and take the time to talk with our kids. Keep in mind, this doesn’t need to be an overwhelming conversation, it can be short. When I sat down with my son this week it took maybe half an hour.
The importance is just to take time to have the conversation.
2. Control the Conversation
As the virus develops things are changing almost constantly. Some days seem to get worse by the hour. Make sure that you have the conversation at your child’s level. My first grader isn’t ready for the same conversation I have had with my high school aged niece. Start by asking your children what they already know. More likely than not, even if you haven’t discussed it yet, your children have gotten information somewhere. Don’t do an information overload.
The media is not your friend here. Stay focused and simple as to not overwhelm your children.
3. Listen to Your Child
Especially if you have a child who is already prone to anxiety or a worrier, listen to their concerns. Make sure they feel heard and validated. No matter your opinion, don’t dismiss their worries, even if they are a bit outlandish. Saying things such as “I hear your worries, and I know there is a lot of information out there,” can help.
But remind them that it is not their job to worry about the virus.
Share with them about how scientists and doctors are working hard on solutions. Stay calm and focused on your message.
4. Be Honest but Proactive
This isn’t nothing, and if other countries are any indication it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. It isn’t going to help your child if you say it’s nothing and then a friend or family member gets sick. Be honest, but stay positive. Focus on why it is a good thing that schools, sports, churches, etc are shutting down to try to slow the spread of the virus. Talk about what you as a family can do with cleaning and washing hands to be safe.
There are a lot of resources over songs to use for hand-washing. We love Daniel Tiger and Mr. Rogers songs at our house.
Have the conversation, hear their concerns, and emphasize what scientists, communities, and your family are doing.
Guiding our children through this difficult time is an important job but we are up to it.
Photography: Lynn Walker Photography