As some parts of the country start to discuss how to reopen, it is important to talk to our kids about what the virus is, why things are going to be a little different, and how they can play their part. Whether going to a religious services, the park, a restaurant, or maybe even school and daycare, there are going to be some changes to the way the families interact for a while. COVID-19 has been an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, our families, and how important community is, but it has been confusing as well. As different areas open up with different rules, that confusion may continue for both kids and adults, but we still have to be able to talk to our kids.
Here are some tips for helping your kids navigate reopening:
- Use this as an opportunity to teach: For those who care for children, there are lots of ways to make ordinary events teaching opportunities. Depending on the age of the child, try to explain viruses, sickness, and immune systems. Watch some educational videos, craft a cell and a virus out of pipe cleaners. Talk about how healthy habits can boost your immune system. These moments can help children understand what is going on and let them know they have some control in the situation by being smart.
- Don’t make it scary: This one is difficult, because many of us are scared or uncertain moving forward, but kids will mirror what the adults in their lives project, and amplify it. The more anxiety the children sense, the more anxious they feel. Being honest without making kids feel like their world is collapsing is important.
- Be prepared to answer questions: Kids are always full of questions, and after learning about something big and scary the world, they will have even more. Anticipating some of the possible worries and concerns can better prepare us adults to provide the best answers we can.
- Make the masks a fun project: If you live in an area mandating masks, give children creative control over their mask. Let them pick the color, maybe some beadwork. Have your discussion while getting creative, and help your kids feel more empowered during these situations.
- Encourage kindness: It may feel obvious, but it is good to remember that now is a time to be there for our friends. Even while we are social distancing, we can do small acts of kindness, be considerate, and strive to be good neighbors. Encourage your kids to think of unique ways to reach out to friends and family.
As the world learns more about COVID-19, our communities are coming together and will continue to move forward. Though navigating reopening can be tricky, it does not need to be scary or overwhelming for kids. Every child is different, so use approaches that work best for your family, and grow closer through it.