Corona Virus (COVID-19) - Tips on How to Explain it to Your Child
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
With the spread of COVID-19 becoming a reality, more and more parents are faced with the difficult challenge of explaining the new normal to their children. But how do we explain something to our child that we, ourselves, haven’t experienced? How do we explain this to our child when we are still trying to comprehend what is going on? How do we explain it to our child in a calm and measured way, when we are in a heightened sense of fear and panic as well?
Navigating school closures, losing connection with teachers and friends, fear around contracting the virus, the uncertainty of when we can see family again, sudden and abrupt changes to routine. This is all new to us too. But our children need us more than ever during this time. They need us to take charge and to stop trying to protect them by remaining silent. The more your child knows, the more secure and safe they feel.
Below are five steps that outline how best to speak to your child during this time –
Talk to your child in a simple and calm manner to help them understand the changes in their world. Try to limit their exposure to media and the news, as this information can heighten their anxiety.
Use appropriate language and show that you are listening to them by validating their concerns and giving them space to express their feelings.
Offer comfort and honesty and remind them that you are there to make them feel safe.
Help your child feel in control of the situation by giving them certain things they can do to help, such as regular hand washing, getting lots of sleep, doing physical activity, staying fit and healthy and maintaining an appropriate social distance.
Remind them that these stressful times, like all stressful times, will pass and things will go back to normal. Resilience is built through experiencing difficult times and coming out the other end of them.
The following link can be a useful tool in helping children understand COVID and the need to isolate. It is a beautiful poem by Louise Gribbons titled, ‘the time we spring cleaned up the world’
Additionally, this little animation by ‘Little Seeds Therapy’ is a great to help kids understand what they and their families can do during this time.
Naturally, as parents, there is some fear and uncertainty around COVID-19. Between supporting our kids, trying to maintain some sense of routine and normalcy, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, working from home, there is little time for you to think about your needs. But one of the most important things you can do for your child is to make space for you, your needs and your feelings.
In the animation below, Dr Russ Harris, author of the international best-seller The Happiness Trap, illustrates how to use ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) to deal with the Corona crisis and the fear, anxiety and worry that goes with it.