Given that most adults are having trouble dealing with the social repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, it should come as no surprise that kids are also experiencing negative social and psychological outcomes. Parents owe it to their children to explain what is going on so they can understand the lifestyle changes they’ve been asked to make, but these kinds of conversations can be difficult. There’s just so much uncertainty that even adults don’t know about the current situation, but that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t try to comfort their children and help them understand. Read on to find out about five tricks that can help.
- Monitor Reactions
Parents need to monitor their reactions to the crisis because children watch adults figure out how they should process their own feelings. It’s fine to feel concerned during such uncertain times, but adults should process those emotions first before sharing them with kids. If children are experiencing extreme emotional distress, it may be worth speaking with a Holistic Pediatrician about how to keep them healthy and calm during this crisis.
- Listen to Children
Don’t just explain the situation then end the conversation. Actively listen to how kids feel about the current crisis and what aspects of it are worrying them. Take these concerns seriously and don’t minimize them. Even if the child’s primary worry is that he or she won’t be able to go on a planned family vacation, that’s a valid concern for a young person and it deserves to be listened to and treated with respect.
- Offer Reassurance
Parents shouldn’t lie about what’s going on, but they shouldn’t focus on alarmist statistics and predictions, either. It’s important to reassure children who are concerned about their potential for getting sick that most kids who get the coronavirus experience few symptoms or no symptoms at all and that if they do get sick, they’ll get the love and care they need. Explain how wearing masks and social distancing can help to reduce risks and reassure the kids that these steps will help to keep the whole family healthy and safe.
- Focus on the Positive
When either kids or adults feel like they aren’t safe, their brains begin to look for evidence that confirms the sense of danger. This confirmation bias creates a feedback loop of stress and negative mental health impacts, but focusing on the positive can help to make children feel safe again and break the cycle. Make sure kids know that the pandemic won’t go on forever and give them the tools they need to manage negative emotions and refocus on positive experiences by teaching them mindfulness exercises or basic cognitive-behavioural techniques.
- Take Action
One of the best ways to end a conversation about the coronavirus situation is to focus on how families can come together to help each other and their communities stay safe and healthy. This strategy can include not just wearing masks and washing hands frequently, but also concrete forms of help like donating unwanted goods to those in need or dropping meals off for an elderly neighbour.
The Bottom Line
The coronavirus pandemic has created a stressful situation for people of all ages, and children deserve to be kept in the loop. Parents who don’t sit down and actively have a conversation about the pandemic will still communicate their own fears to their kids, so it’s better to explain what’s going on. The tips above should help.