College of DuPage Nursing Student Christina Molenda shared with Healthy Lombard that Coronavirus talk is everywhere we turn. We hear such things as; “Make sure you wear your mask and wear it right!” “Wash your hands and sanitize often!” “Keep a 6-foot distance in all public places!”
As we hear these messages and read these instructions everywhere we go, it becomes fixed in our minds. We have to consider the messages our children are receiving, and how they are able to make sense of the changes in their environment at such a young age. As adults, we are able to understand why life, as we know it, has changed. It is important to consider, however, the effect all of these changes have on children as their various developmental ages, and the meaning they apply to their experience.
While we as parents make sure our financial needs are met by modifying our work; our kids have had to modify, not only the way they perform in school but also maintain physical boundaries with some of their closest friends. This is especially hard as playing closely with others is an important piece of development, especially for our toddlers and preschoolers. Although we are strained during these tough times, we can help our children understand what is happening and redirect their minds when we feel they are struggling.
According to Rachel Ehmke with Childmind.org, here are some ideas on how to approach your child when discussing the virus; welcome their questions while also staying developmentally appropriate, more importantly, make sure their questions are not avoided, even if the answer is not known. This helps them to deal with the uncertainty, then it may be a comfort to them to help them re-focusing on the current events of life and what you as a parent are doing to keep everyone safe. As parents, we have our own anxiety about this situation, so it is best to deal with our own anxiety to adequately help our children cope with the situation.
Every now and then, we may experience fearful thoughts such as, will my child be traumatized by this pandemic? As resilient as children are, this is definitely a concern and will affect each child differently. Dean Sheldon from Childmind.org believes that once life starts to slowly re-gain a pattern of regularity, and this will not happen overnight, it is important to re-evaluate our expectations and allow our children to slowly adjust to a sense of normalcy. We should be conscious about taking a step back and gradually seek to find opportunities that we can practice in the home, while at the same time, continuing to empathize with their feelings. Allowing the child time to adapt at their own pace is key. Children may not initially understand that the virus is under control, so providing extra time to explain this to them while addressing their needs will help them to have more confidence in the future. If you worry that your child is struggling more than expected, however, it is important to contact a health care provider to put your mind at ease and provide more specific attention to your child’s well-being during this important transition.
We are all in this together and while this has been a rough ride for all of us, we need to stay strong and spread positivity!
Rachel Ehmke, Managing Editor. (n.d.). Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus. Child Mind Institute. https://childmind.org/article/talking-to-kids-about-the-coronavirus/
Sheldon-Dean, H., MSW, Editor, I. a S., & Institute, writer at the C. M. (n.d.). Will My Child Bounce Back From the Coronavirus Crisis? Child Mind Institute. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://childmind.org/article/will-my-child-bounce-back-from-the-coronavirus-crisis/