Parenting in a Pandemic: What to Do When COVID-19 Cancels School
At the best of times, parenting can present plenty of challenges and difficult moments. Parenting during a global pandemic such as the coronavirus? Needless to say, this isn’t the best of times, and for many parents, this may be the toughest period you’ve ever faced as a family.
Families nationwide are stocking up on groceries and basic household essentials, worrying about possible coronavirus symptoms in the community and preparing for a potential period of financial stress.
At the same time, schools are closing rapidly across the country. Whether COVID-19 has reached your area already or your state has canceled all classes as a precautionary measure, you may be facing an indefinite period where your children are home, possibly while you’re trying to work from home—something else you may not be accustomed to.
Unlike summer vacation, you had little to no time to prepare activities or enrichment learning for your children, and you have few (if any) options for childcare or out-of-home distractions. While thinking up activities to keep your children busy may fall a distant second or third, to your more serious concerns, it’s still something you’ll be considering in the weeks to come. But we have some tips to help.
TALKING TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT COVID-19
While young children may not understand everything that’s happening in the world right now, they probably realize things are a little different. Siblings and parents home all day, disruption to normal routines, more tension in the air—these are all unusual changes to preschool children, who may respond with increased irritability or frequent reassurance-seeking behaviors, like wanting to know what family members are doing and wanting to be held or interacted with.
Older children may initially respond to school cancellations with elation, but tension and stress may color the edges of that excitement. If you live in a particularly hard-hit area, such as Washington state, California, or New York, your children may be noticing information about severe illness and death from radio or news headlines. Even if your area hasn’t yet had many cases of the novel coronavirus, news about the spread in other cities and countries might increase their anxiety and fear.
The way you talk to your children about the virus and its effects can make a big difference in their emotional state. If you’re unsure how to handle the situation, the following tips can help.
1. Offer age-appropriate, honest information about COVID-19.
Remember, teens can (and probably are) accessing the same news sources you are. They’re also talking to their friends and getting information from numerous online sources. You need to provide them with factual information from credible sources. Use this opportunity to stress the importance of sticking to trusted sites, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization, and learning how to separate rumor from fact.
Younger children will likely accept what you tell them, but it’s important, to tell the truth about your level of risk. If you say “Don’t worry, everything’s fine,” they’ll most likely have some valid questions about your extreme reaction when they touch their face or why they can’t celebrate their birthday as planned. psychological help to people
2. Answer their questions about the virus.
Your children will likely have a lot of questions about what’s happening. You may not know how to answer everything they ask, but it’s important to listen to their concerns and provide answers when you can. A lack of knowledge can make fear and anxiety worse, but knowing they can ask questions and share their worries with you may help relieve some of this tension.
3. Limit news viewing.
Too much information can also increase anxiety. If you keep news broadcasts running all day, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed, and so will your children. Even if you prefer to read your news, constantly checking for updates can prevent you from being present for your children. This constant influx of information can also affect your mood and increase your own stress, which can feed into theirs in a vicious, repeating cycle.
4. Avoid discriminatory attitudes.
COVID-19 may have originated in China, but anyone can contract the virus, and it’s not specific to China. People of Asian descent are no more likely to have the virus than anyone else, especially if they haven’t recently been in China. Terms like “Chinese virus” perpetuate stigma and harmful ideas in a time that’s already full of distress and fear.
By speaking about affected individuals in other countries with compassion, reminding your children anyone at all can have the virus, and encouraging them to practice social distancing with everyone, you can help combat the spread of coronavirus prejudice.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR PARENTING DURING COVID-19
Parenting during COVID-19 may look a lot different for you right now, especially if pre-COVID-19 you worked while your children went to school. Now all of you are home, sharing close quarters, and you might not have a chance for time alone, or time to work (if you’re telecommuting during this time).