Well, there’s no avoiding it.
The impact of the Corona virus has hit home for the majority of us in one way or another.
You may be in quarantine, home with kids, or out of work.
The effects are real, especially the fear and stress.
One of the biggest concerns is supporting out kids practically and emotionally through the disruptions to life.
So here are few tips to guide you as you negotiate the sudden changes to your regular programming.
1. Get the facts
The first thing you’ll want to do is ask your kids what information they have about the Corona virus. You can connect personally with their teachers to get the background on what they might already know from their classrooms, but kids talk in an effort to make sense of their confusion (we adults know a thing or two about that too), so touch base with your kids and ask them what they already know so you can offer them clarity and guidance.
2. Keep it simple
In times of intensified fear, we all feel better when we have a story to hold on to and we know what we need to do. When it comes to supporting your kids, create a narrative that is easy to communicate and understand. For example, a virus makes people sick. The Corona virus makes people sick. It’s a new virus so everyone is being extra careful about spreading the virus. That means their won’t be school for a while. In the meantime, here’s what’s going to happen….
Before you speak to your kids, make efforts to create a picture in your head about how life will look for the next little while. What time will the day begin? What will they be doing each day? Who will be looking after them? etc. You may not be 100% clear on the details yet, but that’s okay. The key is to be communicating what you do know, keeping in mind that in a short while we will all regulate to the new changes.
3. Name it to tame it
It’s what we don’t talk about that scares us the most, so try to make space to name the very normal and expected emotions your kids might be feelings like fear or confusion, and to speak opennly about what they are scared of.
In all likelihood, they might be scared that someone they know and love will get sick and die. Fair enough. If your child expresses this fear, take a breath and just make some room for that. You might experience a wave of fear yourself. That’s good. It’s an opportunity to truly empathize with your kid, that is, to sit with them in their fear and demonstrate to them that it is tolerable.
“You know,” you can say, “it really is scary when I think of someone we know and love dying”. And breathe. Then, you can reassure them with facts and probabilities. That won’t take away their fear entirely, but it will help them manage their fear if they have someone who can validate their fear, keep them company in it and offer timely information to help them rationalize their fear.
4. Keep a schedule
There will likely be several disruptions to your kids’ regular schedule. That’s okay, but it is super important to have some sort of schedule. Even if it includes lots of TV (there’s enough on our plates without all the mommy guilt, am I right), the predictability maintains your kids’ sense of safety and control which is especially important when there is a general sense of lack of control.
Be sure to keep wake and sleep times consistent as well as include social interactions, exercise and outdoor play. These are fundamental elements of a healthy lifestyle, no matter how disrupted it become.
5. Stay calm
It’s easier said than done considering the disorder and confusion that we’re riding these days. However, if I want to give my kids a sense of stability in light of the uncertainty, I have to make a concerted effort to keep my inner world as level as possible. That means paying attention to, acknowledging and validating the ebbs and flow of my thoughts and emotions. In light of the circumstances, you will very likely feel more stressed and anxious. The key is to not try to stop what your feeling, rather to pay attention to it with an open mind and acceptance.
These circumstances are unprecedented and require an extra level of focus and concentration, which can be tough when we’re distracted by fears and uncertainties.