As parents, we are always trying to work out what is right for our children constantly. With news about Coronavirus everywhere, schools now being closed for such a long time, we can’t get away with saying summer holidays have started early – even though the weather is on our side. It’s evidently impossible to shield our children from all the upsetting information and also the significant behavioural change that has happened since the outbreak.
Here is my advice for talking to children.
I think all of us are guilty of underestimating the impact this has had on our lives, it’s hard to believe that we have such severe restrictions on leaving the house, going to the park and you’re your children going to school. Initially with schools closing so close to Easter, it was very simple to say Easter Holidays have started early – wahoo. As the time has gone on, it’s important to speak to children honesty – no one really likes being lied to, but maybe the odd white lie about the tooth fairy doesn’t count.
It’s ok to be concerned
In the early stages of lockdown, the start realisation that my business had been closed, this was huge for me as a parent to grasp. I do feel that both my children we very quick to pick up on my anxiety and worry. So I started to talk them through what was going on, explaining about my business and what it meant. This opened a dialogue about their concerns and worries, why couldn’t they go to the park, why couldn’t they see their friends. We discussed what the coronavirus was, how it can be spread, why we need to wash our hands and fundamentally why it was important to stay at home. We agreed that although bad things can happen, so many people including world leaders, doctors & nurses and ourselves are working very hard to reduce the impact of the pandemic, so they do not need to be scared all the time.
Watching the news
In the initial stages, my husband and I watched the daily briefing every single day. We very quickly realised this was having a huge impact on our children, we became fixated on what the briefing update was, how many cases of the virus and how many deaths. Small doses of real-life news can be really helpful. Lots of exposure can do harm, because children like adults can become fixated on what the news says and then repeatedly look at news coverage relating to the pandemic. My advice would be to find balance, could you watch the news once they are in bed, or listen to an update on the radio, but it’s important to watch other news, which isn’t just related to the pandemic.
Talk about the facts
By having open and honest communication with children, their brains are so wonderful and often spark questions some more random than others. I would suggest answering them with clear facts, if you don’t know the answer why not spend time finding out the answers together. My daughter is only 6, she asks about how many people had died from coronavirus, we found the answer which was specific on that date. She followed this by asking how many people died from other things and do people only die from coronavirus – so we spent some time finding out all these answers. I think it’s so important to answer honestly, and this enables your children to continue to communicate with you about all their worries. It should hopefully stop them bottling up their feelings even for post-coronavirus life.
Check-in with your children
For people with teenagers, I would suggest check in with them regularly to ask if they are discussing the pandemic with friends – especially if they have access to social media apps to stay in touch with school friends. Reassure them that they can ask you questions at any time.
Talk about Responsibility
This is a really good time for teaching your children to grow into responsible adults. Abiding by the laws – such as not going out and gathering with other people – means understanding that there is something bigger than themselves and that we should protect each other.