Talking with children about Covid-19
We are in unprecedented times, with so much information being shared about the coronavirus daily. This is causing many families stress and anxiety, and some are unsure how to talk to their children about Covid-19.
Here are some times to get you started if you choose to share information with your children.
Manage your own anxiety first: The first think I would suggest is to be aware of your own mental state before approaching this subject with your child. Do whatever you need to in order to be calm before speaking with them.
Use a calm and reassuring voice: Once you are calm yourself, ensure you are maintaining a reassuring tone of voice. This will help your child know that it is safe to voice their own concerns , thoughts and feelings about the situation with you.
Follow your child’s lead: Ensure that the information you are providing them is age appropriate. It’s best to follow their lead, and answer questions they are asking, without offering more details than what they are interested in. It may also help to find out what they already know, making sure they know the facts and not false information.
Focus on what you’re already doing: I’m sure your family is already doing many great things to keep you and your community safe. This could be washing hands frequently, maintaining social distance when going out for essential tasks, and staying home when you can. Explain to your children why this is very important and helps us all stay healthy.
Validate their feelings: Your child may have a wide range of emotions right now, from anger to frustration, boredom or even sadness. Their entire life has been turned upside down, with daily routines changed, their favourite after school activities cancelled, and time with friends limited to virtual meetings. By modelling healthy coping yourself, you can help your child deal with their complex feelings. Share your own feelings with them, and show them what you do when you are also upset.
Be mindful of exposure to news: Try to limit exposure to what is essential in order to stay informed. It’s easy to binge watch the news and look up article after article related to the virus. However, this can have an effect on your mental health as well as your child’s. For older children, you may want to sit with them as they read or watch the news so that you can help them make sense of it and discuss with them what they’ve learned.
I know many of you are already doing a wonderful job in managing your stress at home, and as the weeks progress, you may need more supports. Please reach out for professional supports if you need them.
Wishing you all health and safety in your homes <3