Schools and restaurants are closing, vacations are being postponed, and our daily routines are being disrupted because of Covid-19. It is normal to feel uneasy, emotional, and anxious about these changes and uncertainties, but what do we tell our small children about this new virus?
Keep it Simple
When talking to your toddler or preschooler about Covid-19 keep it simple. The only thing they need to know is there is a germ that is making some people sick. It is important they get accurate information, but they do not need an abundance of information.
Validate their Feelings
Young children normally show anxiety in a different way than older children or adults. They do not understand exactly what they are feeling so their anxiousness may come out as a belly ache, anger, or out of character behavior. If you are noticing these signs, sit with them and talk to them about their feelings. Tell them it is okay to feel mad about school being cancelled or sad that your family is unable to continue with your spring break plans. Let them know your feelings as well. Everyone in our community is enduring big changes right now and it is scary, overwhelming, and confusing.
Explain to children what is being done to keep them and your family safe. Schools, restaurants, and churches are closing to keep the germs from spreading. Your family is doing extra cleaning and everyone one is washing their hands regularly to stay healthy in your home. Remind them it is your job is to keep them safe and it is their job to play. This will help them not feel the burden on their shoulders.
Begin a New Routine
Toddlers and preschoolers thrive on routine. They like to know what is going to happen next in their day. Because of the closings and changes this is a great time to begin a new routine with your child. This new routine can be highly structured or it can be a list of expectations for your day. Do what is best for your family.
Bring in Some Fun
What’s better to ease anxious feelings than a little fun and goofiness! Have a good ole tickle fight or a silly dance contest. Ask your preschooler for the latest knock, knock joke. Even though it might only be “knock, knock” “who’s there” and a silly sound they make, it is sure to bring on some much needed laughter.
Pray with Your Child
Praying with your child is a great way to ease unsettling feelings. Remind them God loves them and he is in control of everything. Pray for those who are sick, for the healthcare providers who are working around the clock, for the leaders of our country, and for all your loved ones. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Love your sweet child through this uncertain time and pray for them too.