If you are having trouble or need suggestions on how to talk to your child about coronavirus, our school psychologist, Dr. Lopez, has provided some tips and resources you can use (scroll for links at bottom):
In these unpredicted times that we are experiencing as a global community, it is important that we understand how we and our children might be affected emotionally. Below are a few ideas for support our children and ourselves.
· Anxiety and worry are high right now for many adults. Young children can pick up on this and many become anxious themselves. Young children may need extra hugs, ask many questions, or whine, cry, act out, or be more clingy than usual. It is important for adults to model calmness, and ensure their safety. Assure them that they did nothing wrong.
· Young children are very perceptive and often hear more than we think they do. It is important to be aware of what we talk about and what is on TV, radio, podcasts, or in our notifications when they are near. Without us to provide context or answers, young children can reach conclusions that may frighten them.
· In order to best support our children, we have to take care of our own feelings as well. Please reach out to friends, family, or professionals for support to manage our own emotional experience of this situation. If possible, schedule actual times to video or group chat with friends or family. Actually seeing loved ones will contribute to a sense of closeness that many of us are missing right now.
· Even though children may already be asking many questions, it is important to ask your children how much they already know about the Coronavirus and why school is closed. Children may not know some of the vocabulary that is being used frequently right now, such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” “contagious,” or “quarantine” or why they are seeing people with masks. For younger children, say less and only give simple messages and facts. For example:
o Coronavirus is a big word for flu; children aren’t hurt but schools are closed and people are wearing masks to make sure others don’t get sick.
o As long as their parents are OK, assure them so as well.
o If they ask about their grandparents or why they are not seeing them, assure them they are not seeing their grandparents right now to make sure the virus doesn’t spread to them. If their grandparents are sick, assure them that doctors are taking care of them.
· For older children and teens, show them the science (they may even find it interesting to learn the facts) and also assure them that doctors, scientists, and other adults are working to make sure they are safe.
· For cancelled parties or events, it is important to recognize how meaningful these events are to children and teens.
o For younger children, remind them that their big event was cancelled because we are keeping everyone safe and it is not their fault. You can substitute some other fun family event and assure them, if possible, that their event can happen in the future.
o For older children and teens who have sports or other competitions, it is important to recognize that they have worked very hard and that, especially for seniors, this may be their last opportunity for such an event. Many will be disappointed and angry, which is a natural, and often appropriate reaction. It is important to validate those feelings.
· Just as we have comfort food, comfort media can also be helpful. Let your children pick a favorite movie to watch along with you and then share a favorite movie from your past with your children. Then have a discussion about what you liked about each other’s picks.
· Try other activities besides TV/movies, too. Consider planning a future trip with your children to a nearby city. This planning can involve geography (maps), math (miles, hours away), history (sites to see), art/science (museums), etc. Board games, card games and crafts are always fun, as are artistic expressions through music, drawing and painting.
The following resources may be helpful for discussions with your children regarding the coronavirus and addressing any concerns they may express: