Many people feel somewhere between extreme fear and slight discomfort, in regards to the Coronavirus Pandemic that we are facing os a global community. Here are 3 things to remember to help you, help your children, through this unpredictable time.
1. Consider their developmental level.
Think about your child's level of understanding when it comes to various topics including virus', hygiene and safety, and death. Children who are exposed to dialogue, media or are directly impacted by the Coronavirus may be curious or confused, and have questions about what it all means. And they may or may not verbalize this to caregivers. As a parent we may want to consider whether our children have the emotional and cognitive ability to process information in a way that increases overall feelings of safety and security. We also could help our children as soon as a concern arises if we pay close attention to nonverbal cues that may indicate confusion or distress.
"Children who are exposed to dialogue, media or are directly impacted by the Coronavirus may be curious or confused, and have questions about what it all means. And they may or may not verbalize this to caregivers."
2. Consider what you feel comfortable sharing.
This is a difficult time for parents too, and sometimes we aren't confident that we have accurate, or enough information to inform ourselves. This may leave us feeling incredibly insecure about relaying any sort of message to our children. Take inventory of what you are sure about right now regarding the fine details and the bigger picture. Try to stick to providing information that you do feel confident and comfortable sharing, while also trying not to speculate or jump to conclusions. Letting your optimistic side shine is encouraged! This too shall pass.
3. Consider what exactly they are curious about.
Every adult and child will have their own unique reaction to this situation. As much information as your child is inquiring about you could try to provide, to the best of your knowledge (and assuming you feel confident and comfortable). It is also okay to hold back information that feels incomplete or not appropriate at this time. A child may sense what a parent or others are feeling, and be curious about or confused by the emotional reactions of the people around them. It could be important to acknowledge the emotional impact that many people experience and your child may feel. Normalize (but do not minimize), the natural fear response that your little one may be experiencing.
There is no right or wrong way to think about, feel about or talk to your children about what's going on in the world right now, and there's no right or wrong way for them to feel. Don't forget while openness goes a long way, children can best understand information that is appropriate to their stage of development both intellectually and emotionally. Trust your gut and that you are doing your best. You know your child better than anyone, you are both going through this together and will get through this together!
Jenna Vogler MA, LMHC