There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic is scary. Schools have been closed, kids have not been able to play with their friends, and children are being encouraged to keep their distance from everyone they meet. Adults can only imagine the things that must be going through a child’s mind at this time.
Parents cannot shield their kids from the coronavirus, so they must instead teach their kids how to stay safe during the pandemic. But how do you tell a child about an invisible disease without giving the child nightmares? Here are ten tips on how to discuss the coronavirus pandemic with young children.
Talk to Children calmly
The first crucial thing to remember when talking about coronavirus with children is that kids judge a situation by the reaction of adults. In other words, if you look and sound like you are panicking about the virus outbreak, your children will be frightened as well.
So, stay calm when you talk to your kids about COVID-19. If you are anxious about the situation, try not to convey that anxiety to your children. Remember, too, that kids pick up on what you say when you do not think they are listening. So avoid expressing your concern for elderly or vulnerable members of the family when the kids are in earshot.
Do Not Dismiss Your Child’s Fears
When talking to your children about coronavirus, it is not a good idea to dismiss their fears and merely tell them “not to worry” or “it’ll be OK.” There are reports about the pandemic on TV and in every newspaper. And it is quite apparent that something is going on because people are behaving differently, and some people are wearing face masks.
If you try to dismiss the pandemic as being nothing to worry about, your child may think that you are hiding the truth from them. It will cause your child to panic less if you ask them what they know, and then put what they do know into perspective for them.
Putting Things into Perspective
Children must be taught about the need to wash their hands and observe social distancing during the pandemic. Even so, you do not want your kids to think that every person they see in the street is infected and could be a danger.
It would be best to explain to children that there is a virus circulating that can make people sick, but steps are being taken to control the disease. It would also be helpful to explain that coronavirus does not make most people very ill and that children usually only experience mild symptoms.
One of the scariest things for anyone of any age is the thought of something dangerous over which they have no control. So, it will help a child to deal with the situation if they know that there are steps that they take to prevent the spread of the virus.
Tell children that they can play their part in fighting COVID-19 by washing their hands, social distancing, and wearing a face mask if appropriate. If kids know that they can do something to fight the virus, the invisible enemy that they keep hearing about will not be so scary.
Set an Example
It is difficult to get some kids to follow the rules at the best of times. Still, washing hands and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic will help to keep kids and their friends and families safe. It will be easier to get your children to follow the coronavirus safety rules if they see you doing the same.
Set an example, and you will be showing children that, while things may seem different now, everyone is going through the same things. The precautions that people are taking are only a slight change to the usual routine that will help keep everyone safe.
Listen and Be Honest
Overburdening a young child with too much information could make them more anxious. There is no need to sit a young child down and give them a “coronavirus facts of life” talk. It would be much better to let your kids lead the conversation with their questions and answer those questions honestly. Children do need to know the truth, but they do not need to be made to feel insecure and unsafe.
Talk to Kids on a Level They Will Understand
Of course, it is crucial to bear in mind your child’s age and personality when you talk to them about coronavirus. Younger kids will need fewer details about the virus than older children.
You might explain COVID-19 to a young child as being something like a cold or the flu. Using such terms would help a young child understand what the virus is. Older children, though, will be better informed about the dangers of the infection so that older kids may need less reassurance about the pandemic and more of the facts.
Empathise and Reassure
The crucial thing to remember is that young children may be terrified by what they have heard about coronavirus, so the pandemic is not something that can be brushed under the carpet.
Adults need to recognise and acknowledge the fears of the children in their care and reassure kids without lying to them. It may help if children know that there have been outbreaks of diseases before. Still, medicines are always found to combat these illnesses, and the crisis will not last forever.
Keep to Routine
Life is different right now, and there will be no hiding that fact from children. Even so, it will help children cope with the crisis if they have a routine to follow. While the schools are closed, parents will need to keep the kids entertained and attempt to help keep kids keep up with their schooling. What you want to avoid, though, is kids sitting in their rooms all day playing computer games or surfing the internet. Isolation and the misinformation kids might find about coronavirus online will only create more anxiety in a child.
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Lighten the Mood
While a lot is going on in the world right now, it is crucial not to forget that kids are still kids. Children will have coronavirus questions, and some of those questions could be tricky to answer.
Once those questions have been answered, though, kids should be encouraged to get on with having some fun. Life is confusing for children right now. But one thing that parents can do for kids is to make sure that their children still get to have a childhood during these difficult times.
The above tips will give you some ideas about how to explain the coronavirus pandemic to your children. But every child is different, so the way that you describe COVID-19 will need to be tailored to suit your child’s development stage and personality.
The crucial thing to take away from this article is that it is best to be open and honest about the pandemic, but try not to frighten your child about the virus unnecessarily.