Just as Fred Rogers, host of the infamous preschool television series, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”, recognized the importance of having conversations with young children about difficult issues, and did so on televised broadcasts, we also need to have conversations with our children about coronavirus. There is skill involved when most effectively conversing with young children. And there are many helpful articles and resources to glean knowledge from which can equip us with these skills. Of the many excellent points made in the San Diego Family article, I think the following three points are especially helpful:
- Help children feel safe. Allow children to share their thoughts and feelings freely, and LISTEN. Listen for words that indicate what emotions they are feeling such as anxiety, nervousness, worried, sad, frustrated, lonely, bored and so forth. Refer to my previous blog post on increasing your child’s ability to be mindful. The article contains examples of great questions you might ask your child.
- Be aware when a child is within hearing distance of your adult conversations. They are listening and they pick up on the emotions being expressed by the adults around them. Be sure to manage your own anxiety and speak not only to them, but also when around them, with calmness and with emotions in check. Also, choose wisely when the news is on and protect your children from adult media. This is a perfect time to focus, instead, on exposing your child to age appropriate media content.
- Explain how staying at home is your family’s superpower for helping you and others stay healthy. Singing the Happy Birthday song twice or the ABC’s once takes about 20 seconds; the recommended time for hand washing. That’s perfect for kids and adults!