These days, it’s impossible to avoid the public conversation about COVID-19. This means that your child is hearing more and more about the disease, and may feel worried, confused, sad, and angry. With the stay-at-home order, your child may be wondering why they don’t get to go to our preschool in Houston.
Parents are understandably overwhelmed by the current crisis, and trying to answer your child’s many questions might be difficult to do well with everything on your plate. Therefore, we have compiled this guide based on CDC recommendations to help your child understand what is happening and how they can avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Guidelines to Talking to Your Kids about COVID-19
More than what you say, children pay attention to how you say things. You can tell them that everything is going to be okay, but they will pick up on your anxiety and get a very different message if you are visibly upset during these conversations. This is true both of the conversations you have with them and the conversations you have around them. Keep your demeanor calm and reassuring when discussing the disease with them or in front of them.
Most everyone’s daily life is affected by the current crisis, which means that you might be dealing with working from home, being an essential worker, or being out of work currently. With all that on your plate, your child may sense that you are overwhelmed and therefore, not bring up what is on their mind.
Make sure your child knows that you are here to listen. Make a point to ask them how they are feeling and if they have any questions. Just knowing that you are there for them can be grounding for them.
There’s a lot of misinformation being spread about COVID-19, and in all likelihood, your child is hearing some of these rumors. Make sure to communicate information that you know is accurate from reliable sources. Pay attention to what your child is seeing or hearing on TV or online.
Provide your child with age-appropriate, truthful information. It doesn’t help your child to hide the truth. Saying things like, “I promise we won’t get sick” or “This will all be over next week” are not helpful because you can’t guarantee either. Being dishonest interferes with your child’s ability to trust you. There is a lot we can’t be sure about right now, and there is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know.”
Validate Their Feelings
Your child is probably feeling a range of emotions. It’s important to hold space for whatever they are experiencing. It’s not helpful to dismiss or minimize their feelings. For example, when your child says that they are worried, instead of telling them not to worry, say, “I’m sorry you’re feeling worried. I’m worried too. What can we do to make ourselves feel better?”
Reduce Screen Time
Spending too much time in front of screens can cause more anxiety for the whole family, as taking in a lot of information on one topic can be stressful. Consider limiting screen time for now.
Teaching Your Child How to Stay Healthy
It’s also essential to keep your child informed as to the best practices for staying healthy to reduce their risk of getting and spreading the disease.
Teach The Proper Handwashing Technique
Make sure your child understands how to wash their hands properly as the first line of defense. The steps are:
- Wet your hands.
- Put soap in your hands and rub them together to make bubbles.
- Scrub your hands for 20 seconds (you can teach them to sing the birthday song or another favorite that lasts for 20 seconds).
- Rinse your hands.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel.
Talk to Them About the Stay-at-Home Order
Your child is likely disappointed to not be coming to preschool every day and may be missing out on other events they were looking forward to. It’s important to explain to them that staying home is helping everyone stay healthy and preventing the spread of the disease. Let them know that by staying home, we are all doing our part to help.
Teach Them About How Disease Is Spread
Make sure your child is able to take proper precautions with a basic understanding of how the disease is spread and what it looks like. Remind them to stay away from sneezing or coughing people, and when they cough or sneeze, to do so into a tissue or their elbow. Explain that while the disease isn’t affecting kids too much, it’s still possible to spread the disease without symptoms, which is why we need to take extra precautions right now.
It may be difficult to talk to your child about this issue, but it’s worthwhile. We hope these tips help you open up the door to the necessary conversations. Here at Cy-Fair Montessori School, we are looking forward to being able to see your child every day again! In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.