When it comes to children and the Coronavirus, most kids will remember this time at home for how they felt more than anything related to the virus itself. During this time our kids are watching us and learning how to respond to uncertainty and stress.
Adversity is a fact of life, but being resilient means they are better able to cope during hardships or challenges, and sometimes bounce back stronger than they were before. Resilience is more than just putting on a brave face, it is having the capacity to persevere and to recover quickly from difficulties – disappointments, setbacks, illness and tragedy. It is one of the best skills we can teach to our children.
We have a choice to focus on surviving or thriving. To give in to the fear and panic or to become stronger and wiser through the experiences of everyday life during this time.
Children and the Coronavirus: How do we address what’s going on with our kids?
This is age dependant. Young children cannot understand that something bad in the world is happening, but they do know when their caregiver is upset. They may start to show the same emotions or they may begin to act differently.
If younger kids begin to ask questions you can say, “you know what it’s like to have a cold or the flu – how sometimes you get a cough or have a fever? Most people who catch the virus stay home, rest and get better. But some people who catch it have gotten really sick and that’s why people are being extra careful and schools are closing.
As for teenagers you’ll be having daily conversations about it because it’s such a great opportunity to observe the world in action, to talk about community and globalization, and to teach values and important life skills. A few essential components to these conversations should include:
- Share age-appropriate facts and correct any misinformation they may have heard from friends or social media.
- Reassure them that they are safe and make sure they feel connected.
- Brainstorm ways in which they can be part of the solution (i.e. maintaining good hygiene practices, reaching out to others that may feel lonely).
Children and the Coronavirus: 10 tips to build resiliency in your children during these times
- Spend more time with your kids at home. This will be a time that they remember. Make it a positive memory by reading books, creating art, playing board games, cooking together, and doing daily affirmations that build resilience.
- Learn something new. Read books, build and create things, discover a new hobby, cook a new meal, etc.
- Save money. Reduce spending on unnecessary items, teach budgeting to your children, build online income streams.
- Move towards self-sustainability. Grow some food, clean out your closets and see what can be reused and recycled, reduce and conserve water and energy. Take inventory of what you need and what you don’t.
- Practice gratitude. Have children write a letter to a friend or family member expressing their gratitude. Not only will it give them something productive to do but it will bring happiness to the person who receives it.
- Remain calm. Stop watching the news, have faith, try not to let talking about the outbreak take over the family discussion for long periods of time.
- Model self-care. It’s important for adults to show children how to take care of themselves. Eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, exercise, and manage your own anxiety and stress in a healthy way with meditation or deep breathing. Daily positive affirmations are a good practice to get into and can help your children to develop a growth mindset even during the most challenging times.
- Notice your stuff. How are you feeling about COVID-19? How is that showing up in your mood and behaviour? Many of us are going to have a reaction of fear, and if we don’t deal with that then we will place that on our children.
- Communicate “There are people getting sick from this so it’s all that more important that we don’t spread germs.” So, let’s talk about how to wash our hands and make it fun.
- Focus on solutions. During times like this we need to find ways to remain open, clear and focussed, so we can be a part of the solution the world needs, and not a part of the problem. What can you and your family do even in the smallest way to make a positive impact? When we ask children to come up with solutions I am always amazed that they come up with much better ones than I thought of.
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