Coronavirus is scary for us as adults…but what about the kids?
Coronavirus. Everybody’s talking about it. And since it’s arrival in Saskatchewan, it just got a whole lot more real. It has us all feeling anxious, nervouse and downright scared.
For grownups, it is a frightening thing. But what about children? How do we as adults, parents and grandparents make them aware and try to keepthem safe without making them frightened?
I asked that very question to 4 of our excellent Counsellors who work with kids and parents everyday. Here is their very helpful and insightful advice.
Jesslet Siluvairayan, B.A., M.Sc., C.C.P.C.P.R.
Thank you for asking Penney.
My humble suggestions:
1) I think parents should be open about discussing Coronavirus with their children and provide age appropriate information. Tell the facts in simple words. And sharing the importance of how to keep themselves protected by practicing proper hygiene techniques.
2) I think it’s important for parents not to panic in front of the children. For parents to not show their fear to their children.
3) For parents to try not to read or watch the news while kids are around.
3) At home parents can practice general hygiene like washing hands properly for 30 seconds with their children. Each of them can take turns to practice proper hand washing techniques.
Julie Hershey, M.A., M.F.C.C.
I agree with Jesslet and add Dr Daniel Siegel’s principle of ‘ Name it to Tame it”. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, reflect back that you hear their fears or worries. Research together on how to safeguard themselves like hand washing, not touching face etc.
Use art to express feelings of worry or make a worry box with comforting and soothing things to help when the worries become really big.
Jen Mazur, P.hD, Registered Psychologist
I agree with the other comments made.
I sometimes coach or emphasize moderate and safe language use and encourage parents to adopt this language for themselves and partners to do the double duty of helping their kids but also themselves.
Kids mirror so much, so it is really important for caregivers to start that process within themselves.
A simple example would be by simply using words like “sometimes” instead of more black and white terminology (such as ‘always’ or ‘never’) or direct terms.
A second idea for older children is to start to delineate the worst case scenario (if they are already thinking it) and to generate the more common possible outcomes, and the solutions for these problems.
I would use drawings and writing or other toys to support processing here.
Hildy Bennett, M.Ed., P.hD. Ed., C.C.P.A.
I’d add an element of fun into certain routines like washing hands and singing a song, maybe kid friendly coloured soaps.
Thank you for the wonderful work you do Jesslet, Julie, Jen and Hildy. We can ALWAYS count on you for expert advice and taking REALLY GOOD CARE of our kids.
Thanks to Julie for sharing the graphic from the Institute of Child Psychology.
If you are worried and need some advice on how to talk to your children about the Coronavirus, please call us. We are here to help. We are experiencing troubling times right now.
Remember you are not alone and together we are strong.
Cheers to healthy and happy kids… and to lessening coronavirus anxiety for our kids and for ourselves.