In the midst of the pandemic, it is easy for someone to get caught up in worry and fear. Daily news reporting on the number of infected individuals that just keeps rising and rising, makes it seem like there is no way out of this crisis.
For kids, it’s a totally different story. Most kids are unaware of the current situation or at least unable to understand the severity of it. To kids, the lockdown or movement control order, whatever you want to call it, seem like a long and never-ending school holiday. They don’t have to go to school, they get to play all day at home and be with their parents as well. It would appear that nothing wrong is happening through the eyes of a child.
Despite this, as parents, you must be responsible for explaining the current situation to your children. It might be difficult to ensure your child completely comprehends what you will explain as the word ‘pandemic’ itself is foreign to most children. One of the easiest ways to explain Covid-19 to your child is by:
- allowing them to lead the conversation
You can begin by asking your child whether they understand what is happening at the moment? Keep the questions simple, use their language, and try to rephrase complex words such as “pandemic”, “quarantine”, or “vaccine”. Allow your child to explain and answer your questions as clearly as possible. Never interrupt them to correct their answers, listen carefully and only respond once they are done answering.
This is an example passage of how you can describe Covid-19 to your children:
“Covid-19 is a germ that can make people sick. If you get Covid-19, you might start to cough really badly and feel like you are down with a cold. Everyone can get infected by this germ, unless that person washes their hands properly with soap lots of times. A person can also protect themselves from the germ if they stop touching their eyes, mouth, and nose without washing their hands. Right now, we are all staying at home because the germs are outside. We have to wait until the germs go away before being able to go outside and play again. This is why doctors and nurses are working very hard to protect us and take care of everyone who got sick from the virus.”
Creating awareness among your children is a smart parenting skill that ensures health and safety of the children. Another trick to explain Covid-19 to your child is:
- using varied forms of media and tools
If you still find it difficult to explain using your own words to your children, you can explore other means of communication to educate them on the pandemic. There are plenty of videos online that simplifies the current situation for children’s understanding. There are also infographics that summarizes key points about the virus perfectly. You can also try to be more interactive in explaining the situation to your children, perhaps through drawings or stories which will not only educate your children but ensure they pay full attention to your explanation.
Some older children understand the gravity of the current situation which might instill fear within them. This might affect their mental health and could lead to prolonged problems such as anxiety and depression. Therefore, you must:
- make them feel safe and secure at home
As the adult and the parent, you are able to control and filter the information that your child receives. Be vigilant and aware of fake news that might exaggerate the current situation by providing false information about the pandemic. Older children with access to the internet and social media might get caught up in news that is far from the truth. Assert your child with the right information, tell them that it is important to always check the source of information that they are receiving online. Explain to them which channels to refer to when it comes to the pandemic such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the Ministry of Health Malaysia for accurate reports on the situation. Offer support to them whenever needed.
Even adults might feel like they have no clue of what the future holds but it is important to let your children know that everything will subside later on and things will eventually get better. One trick to do this is to:
- give them a sense of control
Offer your children information on how to prevent getting infected by the virus. Talk about proper hand washing techniques, the importance of soap, how hand sanitizers help to eliminate the virus, the reason for social distancing, and the importance of staying at home. This gives children a general idea that the virus can be stopped and prevented from infecting them if they practice the necessary precautions. It offers them a sense of control and helps to ease any worry that they may have during this pandemic.
Overall, it is important for us to do our jobs as parents in keeping our children safe during this challenging time. Informing your young ones about the dangers of the pandemic is the responsible thing to do and helps them to give full cooperation in everyone’s efforts to manage the outbreak of the virus. Goodluck and stay safe!