There’s no escaping the health crisis that is happening in 2020. Whether it’s the absolute saturation in the media or people literally coming to fisticuffs over toilet paper in the supermarket... COVID-19 is no longer ‘something happening over in China’, and something that is very much in, or coming to, a town near you in the not so distant future.
The amount of information and MIS-information circulating and the very real feelings of anxiousness and what-ifs can very quickly overwhelm even the most logical of adults, let alone our kids. So how can we talk to them about what’s going on and how we can prepare?
You could take the, ‘do kids really care? I’m just gonna leave it and hope they’re oblivious’ route.... and this may just work. You know your kids the best so, if you think you’ll add panic where originally there was none by chatting to them about it, you could consider not saying anything at all. BUT... take into account, in some of their friends or classmate’s houses, this could be a big deal. If some parents are out there talking about apocalyptic type scenarios and hoarding all the toilet paper and their kids pick up on it, it could be relayed to your kids in the playground. Your kids could be worrying about it and you aren’t aware. So, some of you may prefer to be pre-emptive and have a little chat to them before things get out of hand or they’re told in a sensationalized way by Sammy on the soccer field who’s Dad is an avid Walking Dead fan.
BE TO THE POINT AND GIVE THEM THE FACTS
Yes it is a new disease that’s come into circulation, and that’s a big part of why it’s being talked about in the media to the extent it is. With school aged kids you could explain it’s like when a new kid comes into their class part way through the school year. They are the talk of the class for a few weeks.... who are they? Where did they come from? How will they being here affect me, my friendships, my day to day? This new disease is similar, it is the unknowns that is partly most concerning and until more research is done, facts are established and a vaccine manufactured, it's going to be getting a lot of attention.
Try and not panic in front of your children. If you do need to let off steam, or have a joke about moving everyone into an underground bunker to fight off potential zombie hoards, be mindful where you have these conversations with your partner, older family members or friends. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids logical thinking skills. Monkey see monkey do, so if you are panicking and running through a series of far-reached ‘what ifs’, your kid is more likely to feel unsettled about what is going on. If you are planned and measured to your approach, calm yet to the point in how you speak about it, your children will learn that sometimes while things are unknown and concerning, they don’t need to be scary and cause us to panic. What an amazing skill to teach your kids and pass on coping mechanisms to be confident adults!
THIS IS A SERIOUS VIRUS FOR SOME PEOPLE
Now we are not suggesting blowing the whole thing off as media hype and going about your day as if nothing is asunder. The good news is, Covid-19 seems to be a very mild infection for the majority of children/adolescents, and this can be something to discuss with your kids to help them feel more at ease about catching it themselves. HOWEVER, it can be a very serious infection for those who have an underlying illness and/or are immunocompromised and the elderly and so we want to avoid getting sick and then passing it on to others. Your immediate or extended family may have people from these at risk groups in it so you may be understandably concerned and this may be something you want to talk to your kids about. Both in terms of what the situation may be if someone close to them falls ill and/or, how you/they can do your part in trying to not spread any illness to them.
Your children may have friends who are immunocompromised and this is an opportunity to speak to them about how keeping us healthy can help keep them healthy.
Which brings us to our next point:
KEEP CALM, AND WASH YOUR HANDS
Medical experts have said one of the easiest things we can all do to limit the spread of any illness, INCLUDING COVID-19, is to properly wash our hands. The recommendation is 20 seconds with soap and warm water, or to use hand sanitizer if no soap and water is available. Fun ways to teach this great habit to your kids is to sing ‘happy birthday’ through twice or, sing the alphabet song (complete with the ending ‘now I know my ABC’s, next time won’t you sing with me’). Another fun way to incentivize washing hands is to give them a thumbs up once they are done on the Thumsters Parenting App. Be consistent and it will very quickly become a good habit (great hand washing habits are important, pandemic or not!)
BEHAVIOUR CHANGES MAY HAPPEN...
...and not just in younger kids. Moodiness, anxiousness, clinginess, tiredness, anger, even bed wetting and unexplained outbursts and tantrums can you be your child or teen's way of dealing with the stress. Try and respond to these changes and reactions in a supportive way, listen to their concerns and keep communicating with them about the pandemic in a way that is appropriate for their age and stage.
We here at Thumsters HQ wish your family health and calm through the coming months as we learn more of how to deal with the Coronavirus and its fallout. And if you DO get quarantined and are wondering how not to all go stir-crazy stuck inside together for 14 days.... we know this great little app that might just save your sanity! Download Thumsters from the App or Play Stores today.