These days, news about COVID-19 is everywhere. Even if you don’t think your child knows much about the situation, chances are they’ve seen and heard more than you think they have. Here are a few tips I thought of to best handle such a sensitive conversation with your kiddos during these difficult times.
Start by asking what they’ve heard. Before schools were closed, it’s very possible that information spread around their school by other kids who may have overheard their parents, seeing their parents watch the news, or from posts on social media. The problem with this is that often times the information will be scattered, unclear, and maybe exaggerated to a point where your child could feel more scared than they need to about the situation. A good way to start your conversation would be to come to a clear point about what they know about the virus, and then set the story straight if any of their information is incorrect.
Don’t diminish their feelings about the situation. Whether they know an exaggerated story or the full truth, likely your child is going to feel scared about what they know. Will they get sick? Will you get sick, or maybe their grandparents? You won’t have all the answers, but it is better to be honest with them in saying that other people are scared by what’s happening too, and that their feelings are understood.
Show them the “good side.” After they know that feeling fear is normal, let them know that there are doctors, nurses, and so many others working to protect all of us. Let them know that many people have recovered from the virus, and by staying at home with you they are keeping themselves and everyone around them safe too. Let them feel good about the fact that they’re following the rules by knowing how important it is that they do so.
Finally, be an open book. Answer their questions. Why did this happen? Are we going to get sick? Be honest—give them the information they need, and nothing more. Don’t go into detail about death rates, economic fallout, or anything else that might scare them. End every one of your answers by reminding them about the good side, and the good people working to keep them safe. This is an uncertain area of life, but your children need to be certain that they are loved and protected.
How have you been handling questions your kids have about COVID-19? Let all of us know your tips in the comments!