“Kids feel empowered when they know what to do to keep themselves safe.”
Jamie Howard, Ph.D- Child Mind Institute
In light of all the fears and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus), kids worry about things too! When there are disruptions and changes to the regular routines, kids get off kilter and don’t always know how to respond to changes. There are day to day uncertainties about school, health and suddenly people talking about Coronavirus all around you. It’s all over the news, your friends are talking about it. People are buying up all the sanitizers, cleaners and TP in the local stores and kids notice. Children feel the stress, worry and fears around them, even if you are personally not encased in fears, they are surrounded by others who are.
A few tips for discussing any fears, worries or the unexpected to your children.
- Be honest -openly talking to your kids is important. The more you keep from them, the more fearful they become.
- Make sure what you share is developmentally appropriate-You can be as honest as is age appropriate. You many not want to share with your 5 year old that people are dying; however you can say ” some people get very sick and we need to make sure that we stay healthy. The people around you are trying to do that by closing schools and cancelling events you are looking forward to because they care.”
- Stick to routines as much as possible- kids thrive on routine. They like predictability. When children (and even adults!) feel unstable or uncertain, their mood is altered. Keeping routines, providing reassurance and remembering that their challenging behaviors may be as a result of feelings of insecurity. Keeping your cool, remaining calm and finding ways to manage your own anxieties can be helpful.
- Use the opportunity to teach -educate your child on feelings and what they are experiencing. Give them words or use props, books or visuals to help them learn to identify feelings-this is the basis of emotional intelligence. Give them the words to explain and take time to connect and help them feel safe.
- Take the time to connect-make sure your kids know that you are there for them. Connection is the basis of any relationship and how to create the sense of calm, safety and security your children are seeking. They may feel worried, afraid, angry or upset, so be available.