With a new lockdown in full swing, parents may be wondering how to talk about it to their children.
Nicole Beaudin is the Early Years Manager at North Hastings Children’s Services. She says when it comes to talking with your kids about COVID-19, welcome their questions. Some questions will range from serious ones, like what will happen to a loved one, to things that may sound silly, like if their favourite restaurant will be open. Above all, Beaudin says parents should encourage their kids to ask questions and take their questions seriously and answer honestly. It is important to tell them fact-based info, to let your child be heard, and be reassuring. While it may be tough to be reassuring, especially for parents who have their own anxieties about the pandemic, it’s important for parents to try their best and not avoid questions. However, Beaudin adds that parents should be comfortable with telling kids that they don’t know the answer to a question. While it’s tempting to give all the answers, she says being honest with your child about uncertainty will help build their mental resilience.
Beaudin also mentions that screen time and the news cycle can be upsetting for your child. She says it is important to filter the news through to your kid to help them understand what’s going on. It is important to not encourage frightening fantasies, don’t volunteer more information than what is asked and talk to them at their developmental level. Being mindful of screentime and addressing what they are hearing from their friends are ways to help keep their anxiety down. But she also says that taking cues from your child and not prompting the questions is also important to helping your child understand what’s going on. Getting your kids involved in staying safe is another way to help relieve some anxiety about the pandemic.
Above all, Beaudin says to be there for your child, and do what works well for your family. She suggests sharing the book by Samantha Harris and Devon Scott to help your kids understand the coronavirus. She says hard copies of the book can be picked up at North Hastings Children Services, and can be acquired by calling 613-334-2941.