How to Explain the Coronavirus Situation to Your Children
The coronavirus has caused a major upheaval in the lives of most people at this point. The virus has made its way to almost every country and has taken over the media and much of our attention. In some cases, our daily lives have changed completely, as some cities enforce a lockdown, closing all non-essential businesses and requiring people to limit their movements out of the home to strictly necessities. Many people feel fear for the safety of their loved ones or their own health. On top of that, countries must also grapple with the damage being done to their economies as they’re forced to bring normal functioning to a halt.
During such chaotic times, we often get focused on what we will do to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We plan, we collect supplies, and we anticipate what changes might come next. Yet, it’s easy to forget about the members in our family who are also affected by all the changes brought about by the coronavirus but lack the experience and understanding to make sense of this new and unpredictable period of time — our children.
While we are certainly doing everything in our power to keep our children safe, it might be tempting to give children an easy explanation whose main goal is to pacify them. However, giving children a false explanation or simply telling them not to worry about the situation will only make the unpredictability caused by the coronavirus affect them more strongly.
It’s vital to remember that while children don’t have the vocabulary or knowledge to grapple with an emergency such as the coronavirus poses, this doesn’t mean they’re unaware of the changes going on or that they are uninterested. By providing your children with appropriate but substantial explanations about the coronavirus, not only do you help them understand the experience they’re having, but you also help them to more seriously consider the precautions they should take as well, like hand-washing.
When explaining as complex and upsetting of a situation as the coronavirus has created to your children, it’s important to give them information in a format they will be able to make sense of. Instead of speaking about a zoonotic disease, talk to them about simply feeling bad or sick. By simplifying the concepts related to the coronavirus into clear and appropriate ideas for your children, they will be able to have a better understanding of what’s happening.
Another way to use simplicity when explaining the coronavirus to children is to speak about why school is closed if you’re experiencing a shutdown in your area. In this case, telling your child that school is closed because some people are getting sick and by staying home we make sure that we don’t get sick or make other people sick. It’s important to illuminate the goals behind the many new behaviors the coronavirus is causing us to perform, such as constant hand washing, wearing face masks, and staying home from school or any unnecessary outings. By explaining to your child why you are doing certain things, you’ll be giving them the understanding they simply lack the life experience to reason about on their own. Providing your child with a better understanding of the situation caused by the coronavirus will help them feel less confused and frightened by all the changes occurring and the stories they may hear.
To expand on the issue of fear, we must consider that, just like many adults, children fear what they don’t know or understand, the difference is solely that those misunderstandings occur at a much higher rate than for adults. For this reason, consider that your child may be feeling some fear due to the serious and somber nature of the coronavirus as well as their own confusion. Many children have likely already heard frightening information through a friend, the TV, or another source. Combating the sense of fear a child will have due to the make changes occurring due to the coronavirus is imperative to protecting their wellbeing.
When communicating about fear to your child, it’s important to consider what information will be appropriate for their level of understanding and what information will simply confuse and exacerbate their fear. Talk about the number of people who have died from the virus is not the right conversation for a child. Instead, to communicate urgency while avoiding traumatization, a parent can speak about the importance of staying healthy. This is a great opportunity to introduce the concept of health to your child, something that can set them on the path towards a healthier life. Speak to your child about why it’s important to be healthy and then explain how the precautions being taken during the coronavirus are all ways that people are trying to stay healthy.
The coronavirus also presents an opportunity for parents to remind and teach children about the value of hygiene. By explaining to your child why hygiene is important, you will not only give them a better understanding of why the world as they knew it seems to have changed within a week, but you’ll also better prepare them. Children who understand that differences have occurred due to COIVD-19 can feel less excluded from what’s going on.
A last but equally integral aspect of helping each other to safely weather the storm caused by the coronavirus is to listen to your child. While giving helpful explanations is vital, answering their questions is wonderful as well. Be sure to ask your child what they think of the new situation and how they are feeling. It will likely take a bit of digging, but it’s important to let children know they can share their concerns about the coronavirus with you. A scenario like this makes sure to prioritize your child’s experience and gives them a chance to say how they are feeling and ask questions.
Explaining the coronavirus to children can seem like a difficult task, but using simplicity, avoiding creating fear, and making sure your child is being listened to are all vital ways to explain the coronavirus to your children. Take the time to help your children understand why all the changes in their living situation are occurring; giving them a good and appropriate explanation will ultimately give them more peace of mind and stability than avoiding the discussion. At Premier Martial Arts, we believe the wellbeing of our kids is always the top priority and hope this guide can help your children make sense of these difficult times.