This can be a pretty scary time, but it can be even more scary for kids, who’s whole lives have been turned upside down.
They have been taken out of their schools, and told they may not get to see their teachers again. They aren’t allowed to play with their friends. They might have even had birthday parties, dance recitals, or field trips cancelled out from under them.
They may not understand, let alone be able to process what they are going through and what exactly is going on.
Here are some things you can do to help children stay calm about our current situation.
Don’t Let Them See You Freak Out. I’ll admit, there are sometimes that I straight up have panic attacks, and have to cry it out. All this uncertainty starts to really wear on you, even after a couple days.
It’s okay to freak out. It’s okay to cry. BUT, do it behind closed doors. Don’t let the children see you waiver. That will just confuse them, and scare them more. They know that if YOU’RE scared, something is REALLY wrong, and they will be in full-on panic mode.
Stay calm for the kids.
Make Hand Washing A Game. Talk to them about good hygiene, and the need to wash your hands often. Set a timer for every thirty minutes, and have a hand washing party in the bathroom.
Let The Kids Have a Turn In Deciding What To Do. Let them come up with fun family activities that can be done indoors. Let their imaginations run WILD, and try to accommodate their plans as much as you can.
Making Disinfecting Fun, and Not A Chore. Get them involved in wiping down doorknobs and surfaces. I mean, this is something that should be happening to some degree during a NORMAL week, so this will just be good practice. And, if you stay light hearted and fun about it, they will enjoy it, instead of seeing it like a chore.
Don’t Dismiss Their Fears. They may understand what is going on, and have a real fear. Whether you think it is a rational fear, or completely off the mark, validate their concerns.
Assess what they really know, and talk to them — on their level — about why things have changed. Hug them, explain to them why we are staying home, and stress the importance of handwashing and disinfecting.
My daughter is terrified that I will get sick. I have a weakened immune system, and she knows that. I don’t lie to her, and tell her I’ll be fine. I just give her extra hugs, and tell her, “That’s why we have to take extra care to wash our hands and stay away from people right now.”
Tell Them Why It Was Important To Close Schools. Don’t make it a scary thing. Explain to them that their teachers still love them, they just wanted to make sure everyone stays as safe as possible.
Keep up with their school work packets, if they have received any from school. This will give some normalcy to their days, and normalcy is actually a good thing to keep a child from being afraid.
Get Them A Pen Pal. My daughter’s best friend lives twenty minutes away. Sure, we can chat on Facetime, or send texts back and forth, BUT there is just something about physically writing and receiving letters that makes everything more fun and happy. It gives the kids a tangible tie to the outer world.