Helping Yourself to Help Your Children Cope With a Pandemic
by Anita McCallum, Elementary Principal
Understandably, the COVID-19 virus is something that we are all talking about a lot at the moment.
I read a good article by Jessica Grose in the New York Times recently about how to talk to children about it.
Here are a few key points from the article I thought were important for us all to remember.
1. Check what your child knows about the virus and where they are getting their information from. Is it an accurate news source or is it word of mouth from overhearing bits of adult conversations or from social media? How are you monitoring what your child is watching and reading online? As this pandemic spreads around the world there is a lot of misinformation out there. Talk to your children about fake news and make sure you get your information from valid sources.
2. Adults need to keep their own anxiety in check, don’t let your children see you panic. It is natural for adults to be worried but it is best for adults to discuss their concerns with other adults, not their children or in front of children. It is especially hard for parents who are away from their families, make sure you have another adult you can talk to about your concerns without your children hearing. You are then in a better place to be able to talk to them calmly and clearly about what is happening.
3. Acknowledge children’s concerns or fears, don’t just dismiss them. Take time to listen to what they are saying. Children also may not say they are feeling anxious or afraid but you may see that they are acting out with their behaviour. Take time to connect with them, listen to what they are saying. Allow them time to worry and then use techniques such as ‘belly breathing’ and mindfulness colouring to help calm them down.
4. Speak at an age-appropriate level and stress the importance of washing our hands – a lot! There is a lot with this situation that children cannot control but washing their hands is a great lifetime habit and something they can keep doing each day to help keep them healthy. It is difficult for young children to understand why they can’t go out to the playground to play with their friends. Prepare them to be spending lots of time at home by focusing on things you can do together.
Here is the link to the article if you wish to read more about it https://parenting.nytimes.com/childrens-health/coronavirus-kids-talk
If you have concerns about your child please do not hesitate to contact your class teacher or myself, we are here to help.