The first instinct of a parent is usually to shield their child from any harm. It’s easy to believe “ignorance is bliss” and the best way to protect our children is by not telling them anything, but children are often intuitive. They pick up on things, emotions, and can tell when their parents are carrying a weight whether they can vocalize it or not. As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded and has altered many of our children’s routines it has caused children to wonder, ask questions and maybe even worry. Similar to adults, children too worry when they are left in the dark. Therefore it’s important, before a child seeks answers else where, for parents to become their safe haven by discussing with them the impacts of the virus while reassuring them in a way that doesn’t cause worry. Here are some ways to have a conversation with your child about COVID-19.
Be available to answer any questions
With so much unknowns going on around your child he or she is bound to have some questions. However it’s wise to ask this question first, “What have you been hearing about the coronavirus?” This question will help you understand what they might already know or clear up any false information. Then create a space for your child to ask questions by opening up the conversation with, “Do you have any questions about the virus?” Give your child an opportunity to be heard and to understand the facts. Encourage your child to ask any question they may have but if they ask one you don’t have an answer to, help them accept uncertainty. Even though we may not have all the answers we serve a big God who knows all and who offers us hope and peace. Remember this truth, “ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 NKJV).
Be comforting and speak calmly
Before engaging in a conversation with your child about COVID make sure your own anxieties are in check. If your child senses any fear and panic they too will begin to take on your emotions. Be sure to be calm and collected when discussing the virus with your child. Reassure your child by explaining that most people who get sick have cold or flu like symptoms and that it’s mainly adults who catch it. Speaking calmly will give your child a sense of peace and comfort knowing “if mom and dad aren’t too worried, I don’t have to worry either.” Be honest and truthful to your child and bring comfort if any fear or worry rises up within them. Let them know you are here for them.
Give your child a sense of control
No matter if you are an adult or a child it is always comforting when you feel like you have a little bit of control of something. So offer this control by teaching children how to protect themself and why certain mandates have been put in place. Teach them that getting plenty of sleep and regularly washing hands especially before eating can help there bodies stay strong and healthy. Explain that washing hands for a solid 20-seconds or the length of Happy Birthday will not only protect them but others as well. Another way to keep yourself and others safe is by wearing a mask. Reassure your child that hospitals and doctors are prepared to take care of people who are in need and that scientist are working diligently at developing a vaccine. Encourage your son or daughter that all the changes that have been happening are to keep everyone safe.
It is normal to feel a little stressed when a lot of changes happen all at once. However for a child having the comfort of a parent can make all the difference. Keep the line of communication open; make yourself available for your child. As you walk alongside your child stand firm on this truth, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).