The Coronavirus pandemic has put an entire generation of children at risk of missing out on school, social life, and even having to deal with pandemic-related stress.
What do children need the most right now from their parents, guardians, and caregivers?
According to Brighthorizons.com “Children need our calm, empathetic presence more than ever. They need accurate information offered in “just right” amounts. They need emotional connections, predictable routines, and practical strategies that can help reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19 while increasing their resilience and sense of control.
Be aware of your own reactions and fears. Children notice our anxiety through both verbal and nonverbal cues. Model healthy self-care by continuing to exercise, get adequate sleep, connect with others, and eat a nutritious diet. Children base their responses on those of the adults in their lives. They need a calm, reassuring perspective.
Remind children that family members, teachers, and others care for them and are there to keep them safe and healthy.”
Ask questions. To find out what your child already knows and also what information they’ve been exposed to, on the media or from other people.
For older kids, you might ask, “What are you hearing about coronavirus? What questions do you have?” For younger children, you could say, “Do you have questions about the new sickness that’s going around?”.
Listen to children. Tailor your conversations to fit your own child’s needs.
Don’t avoid questions you can’t answer. Given how much uncertainty there is, try to be comfortable saying “I don’t know” and looking for answers from reliable sources.
Teaching children how to tolerate uncertainty is key to reducing anxiety and helping them build resilience.
Also, if your kids don’t seem keen on talking about the subject or don’t ask a lot of questions, that’s perfectly normal.
Be reassuring. Focus on helping your child feel safe. Speak calmly and reassuringly.
Many positive things are happening to keep people safe and healthy. Young kids might be reassured to know that hospitals and doctors are prepared to treat people who get sick. Older kids might be comforted to know that scientists are developing vaccines.
Remind kids that washing their hands is helping everyone by stopping the spread of the virus. Involve them in your family’s safety plan by letting them choose masks for the family, or coming up with a new song to sing while you wash your hands.
Use talking about coronavirus as a way to help kids learn about their bodies, like how the immune system fights disease.
Let your kids know that it’s normal to feel stressed out at times. Recognizing these feelings and learning that stressful times pass and life gets back to normal can be a valuable lesson to help children build resilience.
If kids know that older people are more likely to be seriously ill, they might worry about their grandparents. Letting them call or video chat with older relatives can help them feel reassured about loved ones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has created recommendations to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
Here are some of the most common questions to discuss with children according to their age.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the short name for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is a new virus. Scientists and doctors are still learning about it.
Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors are trying to learn more so they can help people who get sick.
Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.
What can I do so that I don’t get COVID-19?
You can practice healthy habits at home, school, and play to help protect against the spread of COVID-19.
What happens if you get sick with COVID-19?
COVID-19 can look different in different people. For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems.
If you do get sick, it doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. People can get sick from all kinds of germs. What’s important to remember is that if you do get sick, the adults at home will help get you any help that you need.
Keep checking on your kids to see how they’re coping with the situation. If you need help or resources the Jumpin’Jax team will be happy to help.