As a parent, it can be difficult to know what you should and shouldn’t tell your kids about COVID-19. Naturally, we want to protect them from bad news and allow them to be kids. But children are extremely intuitive and understand more than we realise. This is why it’s important to talk to them openly and be honest.
Below we have some tips for talking to kids about COVID-19
- Try replacing the word ‘lockdown’ with “hibernating”
‘Lockdown’ can seem like a scary word to kids. Replacing it with ‘hibernation’ makes it easier for kids to relate to and understand. Explain to them how some of their favourite animals like to hibernate in the winter to keep warm and safe, like squirrels or hedgehogs.
- Give them simple and honest answers to their questions
With so many changes, kids are bound to ask questions. It might range from “will we be able to see grandma soon?” to “will I be able to go back to school next month?” Try to answer them as honestly as you can, even if you’re not sure of an answer. Telling them “I don’t know, but we’ll be okay” will help to reduce their anxiety and build resilience.
- Keep a regular routine to make life as normal as possible
With another lockdown upon us, there will be many changes, including school learning from home. Kids can become overwhelmed by big changes, so keeping their daily routine as normal as possible is good for them. These routines can be as simple as waking up at a set time, eating breakfast together, or going for a walk at lunchtime.
- Let them know what to expect in the coming weeks or months
Nobody knows exactly what to expect over the next few weeks or months. However, there are some things we can expect, such as not seeing family or friends, and having to stay inside more. Make sure your kids are aware of what is going on so they know when they might be back in school again or can see their friends more. It will help to answer any questions they might have as well.
- Encourage them to express their emotions
It is very easy for kids to keep things bottled up. Every day, set aside time to sit down and allow them to tell you how they feel. Encourage them to talk by saying things like “I imagine you might be worried about getting sick” or “It must be frustrating not to see your friends.” Acknowledge their emotions without judgement and it will help them to feel better.
- Remember to take care of yourself as well
Being a parent is hard at the best of times. Remember to take care of yourself, even if that means switching off the news and having a social media free day! Do something for yourself that makes you happy; whether it’s running a bath, reading a book, listening to music, going for a walk or eating your favourite food.