It is a very different time right now. The COVID-19 virus has changed, for many of us, how we are living and working. Our Cloverbud age children are adapting to learning at home through online methods. They are missing their teachers, classmates and the routine of the classroom. Many parents are trying to work at home and help their children with the learning process. As everyone adjusts to these rapid changes, it is important to remember that children look to adults for guidance.
The Centers for Disease Control reminds us to remain calm and reassuring when talking to children. Children pick up on both what you say and how you say it. The CDC also reminds parent and other caregivers that language blaming others should be avoided. Everyone should avoid making assumptions about who gets the virus. It can make anyone sick regardless of race or ethnicity.
The National Association of School Psychologists suggests ways to be a role model for children and provide this guidance.
- Consider how you talk about COVID-19 and social distancing – These are topics that may be hard for children to understand. You can remind your child that you are doing everything you can to keep your family and other loved ones safe and healthy. Your children know that they miss their friends but may not understand why they cannot see them right now. You can explain that your family is following the guidelines of health experts who know that we must stay away from others to keep healthy.
- Focus on the Positive – One of the advantages of this time is that many of us are together as a family more than usual. You can play games together, sing, organize belongings, go outside or anything else your family enjoys. Use this as a time to reconnect.
- Establish and maintain a daily routine – Research shows that keeping a regular schedule provides a sense of comfort and well-being. Having this routine can help your child feel in control when other things are out of his or her control.
- Offer lots of love and affection
Another suggestion is to monitor television viewing. Watching constant coverage of the COVID-19 virus situation can cause stress for both you and your children. Some of the information may not be developmentally appropriate for your child and cause anxiety and confusion. If your Cloverbud has access to the internet or social media, remind them that the stories he or she sees may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
Your child may have questions about the current situation. Let your child know that you are willing to listen to him or her. You can let your child’s questions guide your conversation. It is important to provide age appropriate truthful information. Your Cloverbud needs brief, simple facts. You can give them examples of how to stop germs from spreading. Let them know that you and other adults are working hard to keep them healthy.
In the interest of helping your child stay healthy, the CDC recommends telling he or she to stay away from anyone who is coughing, sneezing or sick. Remind your child to cough or sneeze into his or her elbow or a tissue (and make sure to throw tissue in the trash). Teach your child good hand washing habits.
Finally, remember to take care of yourself. Parents have a lot of responsibility right now and are also adjusting to rapidly changing situations. Do those things that help you destress – read a book, take a bubble bath, listen to your favorite music, pet your dog or cat. Taking care of yourself will help you take care of your child.
Russell, W. T. (2020, March 16). 10 tips for talking about COVID-19 with your kids. Retrieved from PBS News Hour: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/10-tips-for-talking-about-covid-19-with-your-kids
Sievering, K. (2020). Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19. Retrieved from National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/helping-children-cope-with-changes-resulting-from-covid-19
Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019. (2020). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fcommunity%2Fschools-childcare%2Ftalking-with-children.html