In a wish to protect the kids from all the bad of the world we’re often not sincere with them. Of course it’s completely understandable we want them to have their childhood carefree and to enjoy themselves. So we say things like:
Oh, there is nothing to worry about.
Calm down, this is a topic for the adults to think about.
It’s nothing, enjoy your school free days.
But kids are not stupid. Many times they are even more susceptible for everything that is said between the lines than adults. If you are saying to your young ones, that everything is fine, but at the same time you are stacking up on conserved food supplies and face masks, they will pick up on your anxiety. And since they don’t want you to worry even more, they will probably be left alone to their fantasies and explanations of what is going on.
It is important that we explain to our children what is going on and here are a few important ques you should use in current situation:
- Calmly explain what is going on
Do your best to calm down first, before you talk to them. Nobody is going to believe you everything is under control if you’re panicking. Even if you haven’t discussed Corona virus with your kids, they have already heard about it. The news, everyday conversations these days are filled with reports of the epidemics. It’s a scary situation even for adults, so not talking about it with children, will only make them worry more. At the same time it’s important that you inform them about what is going on in a calm and soothing manner.
- Talk with them at their development level
Of course it doesn’t make any sense to go into details and explain all the chemistry needed to understand the Corona virus spreading to a 6 or 10 year old. Too much information that they can’t understand can again be scary and overwhelming. Stick to the basics of what is going on. A good and simple idea is also, that you ask them. Ask them, what have they heard, so far. Encourage them to ask questions. And if you don’t know the answer, you can search it up together.
You can also use educational cartoons. Watch together and talk about them afterwards.
3. Validate their feelings
It’s important that you tell your children that any emotion they are feeling is normal and a lot of people are experiencing the same these days. Fear is normal response to an unknown situation or when we feel there is something dangerous going on. At the same time explain them what everyone is doing to contain the virus. What are the precautions you take at home, why is it so important to wash their hands and why they will be only speaking to grandparents on the phone for a while.
The feeling that we have control over something makes us feel safe. Emphasise how by washing hands and staying home they too are helping. Another thing that makes us feel safer is routine. In times where we have to limit our movement, when the daycare centres and schools close down, the children loose this routine. Try to establish structure and keep the daily habits at a certain rhythm. You can talk to the kids about their leisure activities and together you make a plan how they will spend the free time at home quality and creative.
Here are some additional resources that can be helpful
Wish you all to stay safe and healthy.
Author: Brina Menart is a psychologist and a student of integrative transactional analysis. She works for Primera Grop as the head of international courses and is our trainer in the Developing Emotional Intelligence course.