“Why Can’t I hug Grandma?” – 5 Suggestions on How to Talk to Young Children About COVID-19
by: Instructor Tiffany
First thing first; remain calm. Your presence has an effect on those around you, and children are no exception. When things are tense, they are tense as well. Try to remain calm and not worry over things you cannot control. As for the things you can control, handle them with care and sincerity. When your child or children start asking questions about what is going on in the world around us, it can be challenging to know the best way to respond. Read below for some tips and suggestions on how you could handle this situation.
First, you want to welcome all of their questions. Allow your child to be heard and respond the best way you know how. Truthful answers should come from you, and not what they may be seeing or hearing on television, social media, or even conversations overheard from neighbors and friends. Be honest about why you cannot hug or kiss relatives that you would normally hug or kiss.
Don’t avoid questions you cannot answer. If you truly do not know an answer to a question, even an extremely difficult question such as asking if a relative is going to die), try your best to say, “I don’t know” and be comfortable in explaining that you do not have all the answers.
Allow your child to feel in control. While we cannot control everything around us, we can be educated in the way we handle situations. Take the time to explain (again and again), that we can control who we are around, how we wash our hands frequently and properly, and how we wear masks and gloves to protect ourselves. Reminders of how germs are spread and why we are not hugging or kissing relatives right now. We are in control.
Validate their feelings. It is okay to feel stressed, confused, hurt, upset, etc. We all experience these emotions at varying times of our lives and we want to let children know it is okay to feel this way. We again are in control of how we react to these emotions. If your child is feeling stressed, tell them it is okay, and then talk it out. Listen to what they say and validate their emotions while easing their troubles.
Be positive and reassuring. It is not healthy to immerse yourself in the saddening rising death toll of this virus. Your child does not need to know all of the details. Focus on the positives that have come from this virus. More time at home with family, stopping to appreciate the little things in life, slowing our lives down and enjoying it (stopping to smell the roses as the old saying goes), creative ways to connect with family members, alternative ways to celebrate a birthday or graduation, etc.
We are all in this together, and we will all come out of this together. Let’s stay positive and focus on our future! Stay Healthy out there my friends!