Many articles are swirling around the internet talking about COVID 19 – CoronaVirus, and how to support children at home now that they transitioned to virtual school for a few weeks.
Most articles I have read provide practical tips to work with kids, keep them on a schedule and busy with different activities that can break the day.
Here are some positive parenting tips on raising kids by talking about Coronavirus in a way to help your young kiddos deal with their feelings.
You don’t have to scare the kids away. But, under parental guidance, it shouldn’t be a problem to talk about specific virus facts for kids, that can cater to their potential of understanding.
1. Manage your anxiety and model self-regulation
Anxiety runs in families, partly due to genetics and partly due to the modeling that occurs between parents and children.
Kids do learn through observational learning and, in many ways, copy their parents’ behaviors. They also notice their parents’ feelings, showing them “how to feel about a situation.”
Therefore, if you are anxious about the virus, chances are your children are, too. They are getting the “vibes,” even if you don’t want to worry about them.
By managing your anxiety, you are modeling that it is ok to feel nervous about the situation but that there is also space for reassurance and hope!
2. Practice good hygiene with your kids
Children learn from what you do, not what you say.
So, while raising kids, discuss, teach, and model hand washing and practice other healthy behaviors during the self-quarantine. This includes taking a shower daily and putting on clean clothes even when you are not going out.
3. Limit media exposure
When you are raising kids, it’s essential to limit media exposure and provide your children with facts about the Coronavirus that are developmentally appropriate.
Children’s brains are not fully developed and might interpret the news in ways that are counterproductive such as worrying them or increasing anxiety and depression.
Try to limit what they see and hear on the TV, social media, and radio. Kids don’t need to be updated daily on the latest developments of COVID 19 or know rates of mortality and the lack of treatment for those who are sick.
They can understand tips for prevention and how we can contribute to protecting those who might be at higher risk, such as their grandparents.
4. Teach your kids compassion
Use this global crisis as an opportunity for raising kids. Try to teach kids about being kind, loving, and serving others by staying at home.
You can also encourage them to use healthy prevention practices, and motivate them for calling and making cards for their grandparents, those who are sick, and people who are in isolation.
Teach kids to be generous by putting together care packets for neighbors or those in need, sharing what is available for the benefit of everyone.
5. Practice gratitude
During difficult times, we can learn valuable lessons. So, while raising kids, it’s important to elucidate them on the benefits of practicing gratitude.
Gratitude helps to improve our mood, increases our sense of well-being, and helps us to stay grounded.
When we cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes our way, we are more open to what is useful in our lives, our awareness tends to increase, and it becomes easier to notice the positive things around us, especially during this time.
Watch this video to understand the importance of practicing gratitude:
6. Teach your kids about feelings
This is an excellent opportunity to offer the space to check in with each child individually or as a family and talks about how each of you is feeling about uncertainty, the virus, self-quarantine anxiety, etc.
Connect feelings to sensations in their bodies and identify ways to support each other.
Yes! Give each other breaks and practice identifying when it is time to spend some time alone.
Teach them how to be present to their feelings, honor their needs, and respect yours. Healthy communication and boundaries are critical during this time!
8. Discuss control
Talk to your children about what we can control (i.e., washing hands, staying at home, participating in family activities) and what we can’t control (i.e., getting sick, special events being canceled, not being able to see friends and go to places they enjoy, etc.).
Fear often comes from feeling out-of-control or not knowing the difference between what we can control and what we can’t.
Knowing that we have some control over a situation helps us feel empowered and calmer.
9. Instill hope
Talk about what you wish for the future. You can make a list of activities to complete with your children when the self-quarantine is over or create signs of hope to post on your windows.
Having a sense of active participation and hope for the future will help increase positive feelings and a sense of community and belonging. We are all in this together.
10. Be patient and kind
Teaching kindness and compassion to your children will require being kind and compassionate towards them and others, but especially towards yourself.
When you are raising kids, you will make mistakes as a parent. How you deal with stress and mistakes will make a difference in your child’s connection to you and how they learn to express their emotions and deal with stressful situations.
Whether you have an infant or a teen, your children need to see you acting on the values that you are teaching them. You need to be their champion and role model for healthy behaviors, and emotional regulation.
The unknown can be scary, but it can serve as an excellent opportunity to teach kids incredible lessons and resilience. Take this time to connect with your child and make the most out of this challenging experience.
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Carolina Gaviria is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a National Certified Counselor and a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist. During her 21 years of work in the mental health field Carolina has worked with adults, adolescents and children with eating disorders and negative body image as well as other struggles that range from depression and anxiety to trauma, alcoholism and other addictions. By applying CBT - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, DBT- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and ACT-Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Carolina will help you learn new coping tools to self-regulate your emotions and cope with life in life's terms. Through her work, Carolina has helped many individuals , couples, and families change different unhealthy behavioral patterns and negative perceptions that were holding them back from experiencing a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Carolina also has experience working with individuals diagnosed with Autism, Asperger Disorder, ADD/ADHD and other developmental disorders.
Carolina is originally from Colombia, South America where she worked for a few years as a licensed Psychologist. She is fluent in Spanish and German. She has published articles and presented at national and international conferences on eating disorders, depression, anxiety and stress management. Carolina has been featured on WBWP-LD television and MundoFox discussing the struggles behind eating disorders, weight loss, stress and addictions and the importance of awareness and multidisciplinary treatment. She is a regular contributor for Discovery Mujer and Gente Today. Carolina practices yoga and enjoys reading about Buddhism and spirituality. If you are ready to make a change and shed the layers that are holding you back, contact Carolina for a FREE consultation. Her empathy and ability to connect to clients will allow you to be the authentic self you need to be to grow and heal! Sessions are available also in Spanish and online.