The current pandemic situation is bringing the world to its knees. As one story after another unfolds via online media, it becomes increasingly difficult not to panic. While panic is the most natural and expected response, as parents, our first instinct is to protect our children from exposure to all the grief and worry. In moments like these, it helps me to remember that children are always watching us. So now more than ever, it is essential for us as parents or caregivers to make space for kids to feel loved, to be afraid without judgement and to find comfort in our words.
But how do we really talk to our children about a global outbreak situation when the details of it are so uncertain to us?
The first step is to speak honestly. More often than not, we don’t give kids enough credit for their capacity to notice when we are not being sincere. While you speak with them earnestly, keep it age-appropriate.
For a three-year-old, it’s enough to know that we need to wash our hands thoroughly so they don’t carry the germs that can make us very sick. It also makes sense to explain that the germ is powerful, and so we all need to stay home. That way the germ doesn’t find our hands and can vanish outside. For an older kid, it is okay to dive further into the details of how the virus spreads and what makes it dangerous. (This might be a great opportunity to explain the cell composition of a virus. #STEM)
No matter what age your child is, while you are speaking with him or her, do not dismiss his or her curiosity. I agree at moments like these, some questions might be harder to answer than others. For awkward situations, it might be a good idea to talk about all the actions that we can take to get rid of the current situation, rather than dwelling on the how’s and why’s.
Facts Not Fiction
We live in a world with 24/7 access to information. If you have kids who are old enough to have access to the internet, they probably have access to all of this information as well. Even kids who do not have direct access to the internet have indirect access to information from discussions around the house. Pay attention to conversations. If you come across narratives that seem inaccurate, make it…