Cancelled schools, new social distancing measures implemented, and work from home mandates have been put in place. Suspense hangs in the air, but it’s important that we parents share with our little ones lessons we can all learn during these tumultuous times and ease their worries.
What’s the right answer?
The global pandemic, COVID-19 has altered many parts of our lives. Our worlds have become consumed with anxiety and trepidation. Schools have been cancelled, and work from home measures have been implemented. As a mother of an 8 year-old daughter, I’ve seen my little girl’s eyes fraught with worry, confusion, and fear. Clutching her favourite teddy bear, looking up at me with nervous eyes, I wake up each morning to her questions:
“Why can’t I go to school to see my friends, Mum?”
“What’s happening? Why do we have to stay at home all the time?”
“What’s going on?”
“Are we sick?”
Her questions keep coming and I sit there pondering about the best response, the best way to explain the global scale of the situation, and how to keep her spirits up.
Your little one has probably asked you a couple of similar questions about the situation. And while every single one of them are valid, they may have left you in between a rock and a hard place. Trying to find the right words to encapsulate the gravity of the situation is tricky – on one hand you don’t want to simplify the situation, but on the other hand you don’t want to cause any more unnecessary fear and anxiety. On top of it all, you want to remind your child that home is a safe and comfortable place for your little one; it’s no easy balancing act.
Becoming a bulwark of support.
I sat my daughter down on her bed and wrapped a blanket around her for comfort. As her mother, I knew what I had to do – I had to be strong and be the best parent possible for her amidst this situation. So here’s what I did:
1. Started a conversation
There’s a lot of information circulating out there about COVID-19, and I thought it would be a good time to teach my daughter about ‘fake news’. It’s important to teach our children how to discern the difference between credible sources and less credible ones in order to avoid getting misled. So, I began by asking my daughter what she knew about the virus and encouraged her to ask questions. Use this opportunity to also correct any misinformation, but do so in a simple manner.
Sparking a conversation around this issue gives you the chance to allay any of your little one’s fears and nervousness. If you don’t have the answers, it’s alright to tell your child that you’re not too sure. Pause, research, and let your child know that sometimes we don’t have all the answers. But that’s why it’s important to keep learning and keep informed by the right sources.
2. Acknowledged that some things have changed
You probably can’t go out to the nearby park as often as you used to, or your little one’s soccer practices may have been cancelled totally. It’s a huge bummer, and nothing breaks our hearts more than seeing a frown across their faces over something you can’t control. My daughter was so upset her dance recital was cancelled she lay in her tutu pouting – it was something she worked so hard for, and had remarkable fun doing.
On the bright side, you can practice ‘reframing‘ with your child! Reframing is a psychological thought process that helps people look at a situation from a different perspective. While acknowledging that while some things have changed, some things have also stayed the same! Instead of dwelling on cancelled plans I told my daughter that we could still enjoy afternoon tea times, bedtime stories, and game nights.
3. Planned activities and play times
Spending all day at home may mean more time for your child to catch up on his/her favourite shows, but that doesn’t mean we should go overboard with screen time. Rules still need to be followed and phones still need to be kept aside from time to time.
Use this chance to spend more time with your child by planning playtime activities or bonding activities at home. There was one Thursday afternoon when my daughter and I decided to go on a baking spree and baked bread, cookies, and cupcakes. She pretended to be a bakery owner while I was the customer – needless to say, it was a much kneaded (pun intended) day of fun and flour.
Spirits up, and never going down.
The situation may seem bleak, but that doesn’t mean our spirits should be too. While my daughter’s questions haven’t exactly stopped, she’s at least bouncing around with her spirits as high as her ponytail. So, as we look forward and face the pandemic we are living in, let’s hold our children’s hands and let them know that we are here facing it together with them. For we will always be in their corner, no matter when, where, or what.
Please remember to take steps to continuously protect yourselves and your loved ones. Wash your hands regularly with soap, avoid touching your face and eyes, and consult a doctor if you’re sick.