Talking to Your Kids about COVID-19
“PARdon Me” – a blog series by Laura Duke, CPNP, IBCLC
PARdon me…but do you sometimes find it hard to answer your child’s questions about COVID-19 and our world today? Are you or your kids experiencing some anxiety? It is hard NOT to be anxious these days. We are simultaneously dealing with too much information and so many unanswered questions. A well planned, thought out strategy can help you and your family navigate this current pandemic world.
Time is on Your Side…Yes it Is
As mentioned in a previous blog entry, children respond well to some sense of structure or routine. While our lives have changed greatly, maintaining some routine provides security. Within that routine, allow your child some time for questions. Check in on a regular basis. This can be as simple as sitting together at the table for at least one meal a day or spending some one-on-one time before bed at night. Family walks are another opportunity for conversation.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
Arm yourself with facts. “What is Coronavirus?” by Chrstine Borst, PhD, LMFT, is a digital children’s book about the virus that is helpful. So as not to become completely overwhelmed yourself, pick one or two trusted resources. I have mentioned in past blogs the HealthyChildren.org COVID-19 page by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is constantly updated with what is known about COVID-19, and includes resources for parenting during a pandemic. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also reliable resources. Turn off the television. The steady stream of daily news is overwhelming for all of us. If your child is older and asks to watch the news, watch it together and with time limits.
Can You Repeat the Question?
When your child asks a question, make sure you are answering what is asked. Repeat it if necessary…it gives you time to think. Answer in simple language. Do you have an articulate child? Remember that children’s language may be mature though their thinking is still very concrete. Confirm that you have answered what they have asked.
People Who Need People
Keep connections. As previously mentioned, there are an unprecedented number of ways to maintain social connections. Giving children other people with whom to connect provides them resources for questions and concerns.
Accentuate the Positive
It is so easy to get bogged down with mourning what we are missing these days. Help your kids celebrate the positives too. A gratitude list is an excellent tool to accomplish this. Have each family member identify 3 to 5 things they are grateful for. Their list can be simple or silly. It is their list. Ask them to share their favorite part of their day.
Put on Your Oxygen Mask
You cannot be a positive resource for you family if you yourself are depleted. Self care is an overused phrase these days that conveys the sense of one more thing to add to our to do list. Work with your partner to find ways to allow each other some me time. Self care can be as simple as taking a breath, at times putting yourself first, and above all giving yourself some grace.
Next week we will look at signs that anxiety is persisting despite questions being answered, and explore strategies to help worriers.
Until then, PARdon me….
Previous PARdon me blog entries