During this confusing and scary time where everything seems to be undergoing panic and a strange pause to all that is normal, it’s only natural that children will be full of questions and emotions towards the coronavirus.
I think the way we listen and respond to children during this time will have a colossal effect on them.
So, I thought I would put together a little something to help you explain coronavirus and respond to children in the best possible way and also how to stay close and connected to loved ones while we practice safe social distancing and self-isolation.
Find out what your children already know
I remember when I was little we’d play a game at birthday parties called Chinese Whispers. You’d all sit in a circle and the first person would whisper something into the next person’s ear. And then the next one and so on. Pretty much always what the last person heard was not at all what the first person said. So, that’s a little example of what life in a school can be like when children all talk about the same topic! As schools are closed now to stop the spreading of the virus, it’s highly likely kiddos came away from school with their thoughts and emotions flying all over the place as everyone has been hyperfocused on the virus.
First, find out what your children already know or think about the virus and move the conversation on from there. It’s highly likely they’ll already have some kind of thought on the virus so it’s important to use this as a starting point.
Explaining Coronavirus in kids terms
You might like to tell your child…
- Coronavirus is a virus!
- It loves to travel.
- It likes to travel in super-duper tiny water droplets. They are a million times smaller than the head of a pin!
- It can cause someone to have a fever, cough and /or trouble breathing when it visits someone.
- It can take around 5 days to have any of these symptoms after the virus has gone into our bodies.
- If you are young and healthy it is easier for the virus to leave.
- But for older people and people who aren’t as healthy as you and I, it’s a little tricker for the virus to leave as these peoples bodies won’t be as strong as ours to beat the virus up quickly!
- That’s why it is so important to wash your hands and not go out places as much! If we did go out as normal, we could have the virus and pass it onto other people and they could pass it onto even more!
- And remember! There are lots of workers doing their bit to protect you and others. It’s not your job to worry!
Lots of people staying at home makes it harder for the virus to travel. This gives all the amazing Doctors and Nurses more time to treat people who currently have the virus!
Fun fact, “Corona” is Latin for crown!
Offer a safe space to discuss thoughts and fears
You might not have all the answers for your children at the moment, and that’s okay. When we talk about feelings they become less frightening for children as they would have been sitting dormant in their heads.
kids will pick up emotional cues from your tone.
Your tone will ultimately teach children how they are supposed to be feeling.
Make sure the conversation is calm and relaxed and that kiddos feel safe and free to share anything that is going on in their heads no matter how silly it may sound. Try to tailor your information to the child depending on their age and make sure what you are saying would make them less anxious rather than more.
If your child is less than 5 years old
At this age kiddos need your face, body language and tone of voice more than they need your words. Coronavirus is such a vague term which is pretty hard if not impossible for children at this age to comprehend. They will depend on your support and love in a magical world of Santa clause and monsters who are very much real to them. It doesn’t take much other than a scary name and scary monster to shape from their vivid imaginations to get them all spooked out.
If they do happen to ask a question, answer in a very calm way. Often if you are chill about it then so will they be.
If your child is 5-10 years old
During this age gap children are becoming less self-involved and will worry about others more than they did before. They will also take hyperbolic statements seriously and believe that we are all doomed. It’s important to ask children of this age what makes you think this and where did you hear this from.
Try to educate them as much as you can make sure they aren’t worried about anyone. Very often children will worry without voicing their thoughts.
If your child is around 10- 15 years old
Your child is likely to be thinking now a little more sophistically and can understand the bigger picture. Adolescence can be quite a self-centring time so make sure to focus on why we are self- isolating and focusing on other people and not just us.
Talk about aunts, uncles and grandparents who need our help in containing the virus. Allow your child to talk as much as they like and encourage them to think of how we can help others at this time while self-isolating.
Staying close to loved ones
I think it’s still so important to pull together with loved ones during this time! It can and will be isolating for many many people. For the people you live with, try and remember not to get caught up in small things or let the tension of staying in get to you. Remember this is temporary and all that your children will remember will be the fact that you were around more than normal and that my friends, will be pretty darn cool for them!
Take advantage of being around your children more than normal, this is the time to cherish those small lovely moments with them.
To stay close to those you don’t live with, we’ll have to add a little twist to it for the time being! Although you won’t be able to physically meet up with people, there are a few handy dandy alternatives to do so that your kiddos still stay close with people they love!
- Storytime with aunts/ uncles/ grandparents/ you name it!
Have a little video chat with someone in your family and have them read a story to your kiddo. Storytime can be a lovely and sweet way to bond, there’s no reason why distance should get in the way of love!
- Have each kiddo write a page or so of a story for someone you don’t live with!
This could be a story of what’s currently going on, a crazy dream they had, why they are missing a family member or completely made up! The goal is to build a lovely activity for your family and then share it with a family member you don’t live with via video/ phone call or even save it for when this madness is over.
- Photo challenge!
Have your kids use props, wild make-up, crazy hair, silly costumes, let their imaginations run wild! Then share this super fun album with a family member who might need a little pick me up. This will be an awesome way to bring your family together and keep things light and fun even for those you can’t meet up with!
- Video challenge!
This one is pretty much like the last idea in video style. Show off some craziness to your family and make their day!
- Send them greeting cards and pictures!
Make sure that you and the kiddos all wash and sanitize your hands before sending anything to friends and relatives! This is again another lovely way to connect with your family without actually visiting them!
If you liked that article please leave me a comment below and feel free to check out more of my recent posts!