Do not forget that the children in your life are also going through this time of COVID19. They hear snippets of adult conversations and news. However, what do they take from this? It may be just enough for them to be scared and confused. Take the opportunity to speak to your child directly and to answer their questions. Talking about it will reassure them.
My daughter and I were chatting the other day and one of us remarked, “We are going to run out of fresh fruit and vegetables.” This was a cause for my 3-year-old granddaughter to worry. She wanted to know why we had no food. We do have food, just low on some fresh stuff, but thanks to online ordering and pickup that is offered by a large grocery store in town we should be ok for most items in the near future. Watch what you say in front of children.
Perhaps it is time to have a sit-down chat with the children in your home. Always keep these kinds of discussions at the child’s level of understanding but you may be surprised at how savvy children are.
Points to cover:
Question: What is going on? Answer: There is a virus that is happening and it is not a good virus. It is like the flu, but can make some people very sick.
Question: Can children get COVID19? Answer: So far, it seems that mostly adults get the virus, especially old people.
Question: Then why are the schools and daycares closed? Answer: A virus can be passed from one person to another person. When you are at school there are a lot of children and adults close to each other. If you are not at school then you and your friends and teachers will hopefully not catch this virus. If someone gets the virus, they can pass it on to many other people.
Question: If somebody gets this virus what happens? Answer: They might have a fever, a cough, feel very tired or have trouble getting their breath. Then it can get more serious.
Question: What can I do so I do not get COVID19? Answer: Wash your hands a lot and really well. Sing the alphabet song, or any song you like while washing. Use lots of soap. If you have no soap, use Purell or any hand sanitizer. If you sneeze or cough use a tissue and put it in the garbage right away. If you have no tissue use the inside of your elbow. Stay home with your family, but if you go out do not stand close to anyone else (except your parents).
Question: When will this be over? When can I go to school? Answer: We don’t know yet, but lots of smart people are working on figuring that out. Everyone wants you to be safe.
You can easily restate the questions and answers. Allow the child to ask questions too. The one thing you might end with is this.
“Look for the helpers. There are lots and lots of people helping us. This includes people who work in stores, police, firefighters and ambulance drivers, nurses and doctors, truck drivers delivering food and medicine to stores, scientists who are working to find a way to stop the virus, people who give us news and tell us what is happening, and kind people who help their neighbours. Of course, your family right here is helping you because we love you and will take care of you.”
Have children (ages 3 to 7) draw some of the helpers. Children (ages 7 to 10) can write a thank you letter to a helper they know.
Parents, the best advice for you is, if at all possible, STAY HOME. That way you have a better chance to stay well so that you can be a helper for your children.