Photo by Pixabay. Written by Madison Pribula
For many of us, we are experiencing such an outbreak for the first time and it can be difficult to understand how we are meant to appropriately react and respond to the situation. This can be especially difficult for those who have children who are just as confused and concerned due to the restrictions, sudden changes and having to make big adjustments to our lifestyle. BodyMatters have come up with some tips and ways you are able to appropriately discuss COVID-19 with your child:
- Try to incorporate normal activities into your day
With many of us currently in lockdown and told not to leave our homes unless it is essential, many of our daily activities and norms are unavailable or not accessible. This can be quite distressing for many kids as they may not yet understand the extent of COVID-19 and not understand the importance of complying to set regulations and rules. Although many activities are put on hold at the moment, it is important to stimulate and implement normal activities into their day to distract and keep them occupied when kept inside. This includes purchasing panting kits, daily afternoon walks, making your own hopscotch in your backyard or even encouraging your kids to cook with you! It is critical at a time like this to keep our kids mentally strong and implement creative and unique ways to stay busy and active.
- Be aware of how you are responding and reacting to the situation
Children constantly look up to their parents and recognise the way in which they respond to situations. This is important to carefully consider when constantly being updated with the many difficult changes that are being made during this time as this influences the way your child may react to a similar situation in the future. It is critical to teach children the importance of resilience and to calmly discuss what is going on so that they don’t feel overwhelmed and know the most appropriate way to respond to a situation when/if they have to face it when they are older.
- Be honest and openly discuss your feelings
Authenticity and being openly honest about our emotions and feelings about the situation at hand can be quite soothing and reassuring for children. During times like this, being honest about what is truly going on and how you are feeling yourself can encourage your children to open up themselves. It can be comforting to them that you may be feeling the same way which may normalise these feelings. This will encourage open communication between you and your child and avoid any bottled up feelings they may hide as they are unaware of whether these feelings may be valid or if it is just them feeling like this. Implement open communication and create a safe zone for your child by letting them know you are always there if they need to express how they are feeling about the constant changes.
- Educate your children
It may seem as though the only thing that everyone is discussing is COVID-19 which may cause a number of misleading and false information to be spread which may scare children even more if this information is brought back to them. For many, our natural instincts are to sugarcoat situations like this in order to avoid your children feeling overwhelmed. As important it is to ensure this does not happen, it is also important to educate your children on what is truly going on and the safety and hygiene measures they need to take in order to stay safe and avoid any unnecessary spread. Inform your children on messages and orders that are now being delivered, however, ensure that this information is coming from a reliable and accurate source. Some reliable sources include:
As always, stay safe and be kind to one another.
- Protecting the psychological health of children through effective communication about COVID-19: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(20)30097-3/fulltext
Other Useful Resources:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) anxiety and staying mentally healthy for older adults (Australian Psychological Society). Practical advice for older adults.
- Psychological impacts of Coronavirus (Canadian Psychological Association)
- Maintaining your mental health during social isolation (Australian Psychological Society). Practical advice for adults and parents