What’s on Your Children’s Minds about the COVID-19 Crisis?

We are living through something never experienced before in our lifetimes. None of us have had to face the challenges of parenting during times like this – schools shut down, loved ones ill, fear of becoming ill, and tremendous losses of income.
What should we tell our children about all of this? One thing we need to tell them is what they want to know. In other words, we should talk to them about what is on their mind.
Four ways to invite your child to talk about what is on his mind
  1. Let yourself be the example. “The other day I was thinking about when you might be able to go back to school? Do you ever think about that?
  2. Say something like, “In the car on the way home, you looked liked you were in your own world. I am wondering what you were thinking about. Want to share?” (Remember that “no” or silence is an acceptable answer. Sometimes kids want their thoughts to be theirs and theirs alone. Your job is just to give them the chance to talk, if they want to. Don’t force them.)
  3. Think back to when you were young. “When I was your age and my uncle was sick, I used to think about what would happen to me if I had no one to take care of me. Have you ever had thoughts like that since you have been hearing so much about this virus?”
  4. Use the calm of night. When saying goodnight, sit on or next to the bed and rub your child’s arm or back for a minute. Ask, “What kinds of things do you think about when you are going to sleep at night?”

When your children begin talking about what’s on their mind …

  1. Answer their questions honestly, but with not with more detail than they need based on their ages.
  2. Reassure them that you and other adults in their lives will take care of them and work hard to solve the problems going on right now. Remind them that adults have solved many very difficult problems in the past, like how to protect people from diseases like measles.
  3. Let them know that the feelings they are having (sadness, anger, disappointment, loneliness, etc.) are feelings that you have also. Explain that talking about feelings can make you feel better. Ask if they have any ideas about what might make them feel better.
  4. Tell them you are here for them whenever they feel bad or need some help.