As a parent, you are probably feeling a variety of emotions right now about the coronavirus pandemic — anxiety,
fear, anger, burnout, confusion, and an overwhelming sense of chaos. We are in the midst of an event that many have not seen in our lifetimes. On top of that, your kids’ school has just been canceled for two weeks. You may have been asked to work from home, or maybe you need to continue at your job while your kids are out of school. On top of that, you want to keep you and your kids healthy and safe. It’s a lot to handle at once.
Let me share with you what works when talking with your kids about a crisis. As an American Mental Health Counselors Association Clinical Specialist in Child and Adolescent Counseling with over 20 years of experience counseling children, I have worked with kids and parents who have experienced natural disasters, war, domestic violence, terrorism, chronic illness and other crises. There are some things you can do right now to help your children through this time.
Ask Your Kids What Questions They Have
As parents, we tend to overexplain. The old joke goes that a kid asks where they came from, while you start a big discussion about reproduction, one that you have prepared yourself for years ago. “No,’ your child says, “I just want to know what city I was born in.” We tend to talk to our kids in the way that we would like things explained to us. A simple, “I know there are a lot of changes going on right now, and you might have some questions. What would you like to know? I might not know some of the answers, but I will certainly try.” It’s perfectly okay to let your kids know that you don’t know the answer to one of their questions. It is better to admit that you don’t know than make up an answer. Because guaranteed, they’ll eventually find the answer they’re looking for, and if it doesn’t match yours, you may get more questions.If you don’t know the answer, turn it into a fact-finding mission. Talk to your child about working together to find an answer to his or her questions. Go online to a reputable kid-friendly site and discover answers together. Check the content of the site first. Make sure it is geared towards kids and has factual information. You are teaching your kid valuable skills in seeking accurate information and using critical thinking skill.