As we continue to face the daily challenges of living with COVID19, many parents have voiced concerns about how they should discuss this topic with their children. What do you say when your child asks “why can’t I go to school?” or “why can’t we go out and play?” without placing unnecessary stress on them? As with most difficult topics, there are ways to talk to your child effectively.
Encourage them to ask questions
Asking questions is a good thing – it gives you a chance to hear your child’s concerns and address them before it results in behavioural issues. Answer their questions truthfully with fact-based information, while reassuring them that things will be back to normal soon. The goal is to avoid frightening fantasies that your child might make up from the bits and pieces of information that they might overhear.
Facts over fiction
Read up on the facts yourself, then explain them to your child in a way that they can understand. Explain what COVID19 is, how it spreads, and what’s being done to protect people. For example, instead of saying ‘the coronavirus is dangerous’, you can say ‘it’s a bad germ that makes people sick.’ You can also say ‘if someone is sick, they might cough or sneeze and the germs will fly in the air’. Make sure your explanation is appropriate for your child’s age and abilities.
Spread your calm, not your worry
Make sure you are in the right state of mind when speaking to your child. If you yourself are worrying about COVID19, it may not be the right time to discuss it with your child as you may project your own worries onto them. Take some time until you feel ready to talk about it calmly.
Educate them on how to take necessary precautions
Ensure that your child knows how to protect themselves and others from the virus. Talk to your child about the importance of washing their hands using the proper technique. Wearing masks can be challenging for young children, but you can try to make it fun by letting them choose their own mask.
Keep a sense of normality when possible
Routine and structure are incredibly important for children at an early age. Try to maintain a sense of normality when possible on a daily basis. With prolonged school closures, children will have extra energy at home and it will be easy for them to become restless. Take daily walks If possible. If you cannot go outside, make the time for some daily activities at home.
Research shows that online lessons help
Encourage your child to join their online lessons (most preschools will have implemented this by now). Older kids will be able to see their classmates and teachers, and stay connected this way. Younger kids may require additional attention, such as hands-on activities. Tutor Time’s take-home learning packets help to ease some of the difficulties of conducting activities at home by providing all the materials you need. Research shows that children who do not continue their education remotely show signs of academic delay compared to children who do.
The most important thing is to remain strong, positive, and to reassure your child that scientists and doctors are working hard to develop a solution to this problem. Your child may not understand the gravity of the virus on a large scale and that’s fine. Just remind them that everyone is having a hard time right now and the best we can do is practice good hygiene, keep each other safe and healthy, and try to go about our daily lives as normally as we can.