Most (if not all) of you by now have likely (I hope!) talked to your kids about the current Coronavirus (COVID-19).
It’s important to check in every now and then to see how your kids are thinking and feeling about everything.
It's also nice to revisit the conversation to answer any new questions they might have.
If by chance you haven’t had the talk yet or would like to revisit that conversation, here are some tips!
TALKING TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT COVID-19
As with any conversation to educate, start off by asking your child what he already knows!
This gives you a great idea about what you’ll need to focus on and any misconceptions he might have that you’ll need to clear up!
3 aspects I think are crucial when you're talking to your children are to speak
I know this seems too simple, but don't let this conversation overwhelm you and it won't overwhelm your child!
Bring it back to the basics and think about these three aspects and you will do great!!
It's important to give kids honest information!
Kids are perceptive and almost always know something isn’t quite right before you talk to them!
If you don’t tell them, someone will!
Now, hiding information from kids is usually more of a risk when we are out among other people, so I will say you’re less likely to have the truth come out from someone else while we are quarantined!
But there’s still a chance!
They’ll either hear the truth from grandma on FaceTime or from the news on the TV!
Don’t let someone else educate your child- that’s your job & you want to control how that conversation goes!
Give clear and honest information.
They don’t need the numbers or percentages of deaths or ICU beds occupied.
They just need to know the simple facts like, “lots of people will get sick, but not very many people will get very very sick. We’re trying to help even less people get very very sick.”
You want to help your child feel safe, but you still need to give truthful information.
Too many details isn't necessary!
Keep it simple, but keep it honest.
Research tells us kids cope better when their parents are too.
Kids pick up on even small emotional cues.
Take the intensity out of the conversation and make it a simple, every day conversation. The more easy-breezy you are about this, your child will be too!
The truth is most people who get sick feel like they have a normal cold.
Remember this information and it will help you to talk calmly about it!
Less is more.
Sometimes we think we have to have a big talk about something when it’s as enormous as this topic is, but kids don’t need all the details!
Kids who are information-seekers will ask their questions (and typically older children will want to know more details than younger kids), so start by keeping it simple and build from there following your child's lead!
We often talk about meeting the child where he is, so let your child guide the conversation.
If your child doesn't talk much about it, be sure to ask what questions he has at the end of the conversation.
Asking WHAT questions he has (rather than IF he has any questions) invites your child to ask those questions more because it assumes the child does have questions rather than make your child wonder if they should actually mention their questions or not.
TALK TO KIDS ABOUT COVID-19 HONESTLY, CALMLY, AND SIMPLY!
As always, reassure your child and give them hope and faith in the future!
Tell them what they CAN control and do like hand washing, not touching their mouth and face, activities at home, family walks, FaceTime, games, etc.
Model gratitude for all that you have and can do during this tough time.
We live in an amazing time where we can communicate socially via technology and we live in a safe place where we can go on walks as a family!
When you model gratitude like this, it teaches your child to look for the positive aspects of this quarantine as well.
Reassure your child and cheer them on for doing a great job keeping everyone safe!
They can do this and so can you!
Keep it honest, calm, and simple!
I hope these tips help you!
Remember that the more you're in control of your emotions and feelings, the better your child will cope with the news!
You will do great!
If you're interested in a book you can read with your kids about COVID-19, I suggest I Have a Question About Coronavirus!
Mayo Clinic: How to talk to your kids about COVID-19
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: Talking to Children about the New Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)