How to talk to your kids about COVID 19
Today I speak to you not as a photographer, but as a parent. These are scary times and we are certainly in uncharted waters with the spread of COVID 19. Over the last couple of weeks I have witnessed a lot of anxiety and panic, which is understandable considering this can be fatal. My concern is how is this affecting our children mentally and emotionally. While we absolutely have to address this with them, we must be careful how we approach it. Children look to adults, especially their parents, when faced with stressful or scary situations. I have compiled a few tips that I have found useful.
1) Address your own feelings first
It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and anxious about this pandemic, but we do not want to put those feelings on our children. If you’re feeling anxious, take some time before approaching the subject to calm yourself. Kids are like porous sponges, and like a sponge they will absorb what you are feeling. We have to remain calm and reassuring. They need to know they are safe and the adults are doing everything they can to help us stay healthy.
2) Find out what they have already heard
Most kids have already had some exposure to the information floating around – everywhere. By finding out what they have heard we can correct any incorrect information. Be sure your information is both honest and accurate. There is a lot of inaccurate information going around, and many older kids have no doubt heard about. This will now give us a chance to clear those misinformations up.
3) Keep your language age appropriate
Keeping in mind the child’s age and use explanations that are appropriate. Giving them too much information can be overwhelming and confusing. For young children, keep it simple. My son is 6 years old and He is very aware of what the seasonal flu is like. At this age it can be helpful if they have something to compare it to. Explaining that for most people, especially in children, it has been mild. Don’t offer more details than they need to know. For example kids do not need to know how many people have died from this, or just how sick some people can get. This can lead to additional worry and create a fearful environment. Calmly address their concerns without overloading them with information. Be available to answer their questions. When you keep the dialog open, not only do kids feel more secure but you can address any new concerns that may arise quickly.
4) Monitor and Limit Screen Time
Information about COVID 19 is literally everywhere right now. Consider limiting coronavirus focused screen time for both you and your children. Constant updates on the status and growth of the disease can lead to additional anxiety. Stay informed and move on. Remind them that just because it’s on the internet does not make it true. They are endless rumors going around right now, and many of them are just plain myths. Instead, offer distractions such as playing games, teaching them how to cook, and if the weather permits, go outside!
5) Stick with routines as much as possible
It is no secret that this has interrupted our daily lives, and inviting some routine can help tame some anxieties. There is something comforting in the day to day routines we have. Encourage kids to keep up with their school work, maintaining sleep schedules, and meals will provide some comfort and structure as we maneuver through this challenging time.
6) Educate them on things we can do to stay safe
An important way to help kids feel more secure is to teach them ways to prevent contracting the virus. Teach them good hand washing skills, avoid touching your face, if you have to sneeze or cough use the inside of the elbow. Healthy eating habits, and getting plenty of rest will help keep you strong. Giving kids guidance to prevent being infected will help them feel more in control and reduce anxiety.
I have more details on how to keep yourself healthy and prevent the spread of germs coming soon! If you would like to sign up for our blog posts so you don’t miss any tips sign up here