Living through a global pandemic is stressful, and it’s important you help your child understand what’s going on. They probably miss their friends and favorite places, and they may not understand why you can’t go out right now! Here are some tips for helping your child understand COVID-19 in a safe, age-appropriate way.
Share age-appropriate facts
This isn’t a great time to go into the details of the mortality rate or treatment. Instead, focus on facts that are accurate and age-appropriate. Here are some child-friendly facts you can share:
- Washing hands is a great way to kill germs and help keep people around us safe!
- Lots of very smart scientists, doctors, and nurses are working hard to take care of people who do get sick.
- The reason we’re staying home more now is to help keep germs from passing from person to person. We can still talk to friends and family through the internet though!
Remember to speak in a way that is calm and reassuring, as children often pick up on their parents’ stress levels.
Help them feel safe and empowered
One of the things that makes this situation especially stressful is feeling out of control. You can help your child feel safer and more in control of the situation by reviewing ways they can help! Reviewing proper handwashing in a fun way is a great place to start. One fun way to do this is to sing songs with 20-second choruses while washing hands, and having a little dance party in the bathroom while you sing them. Another way is to arm older children with a microfiber cloth and antibacterial spray and have them help you sanitize frequently touched places around the house like door handles or countertops.
Monitor what they’re learning from other sources
There’s lots of misinformation out there, and it can be especially confusing for children to see grownups saying so many different things. Even accurate information that is said in a scary way may be upsetting! Whenever possible, try to limit your reading and listening to the news to times your children are in bed so they aren’t exposed to information that isn’t age-appropriate. Take time to ask your child about what they’re seeing and learning, and leave space for them to share what they’re learning about COVID-19 too. That way, you can be aware of what they’re learning and confront misinformation before it becomes a big deal.
These are strange times to be living through, but you can help them be less stressful for your child. Keep these tips in mind while helping your child understand COVID-19, and remember that your best is enough.