The Covid-19 situation has brought changes to our lives. Trying to adapt and coming to terms with these changes can cause increased stress in both adults and children. It may be even more distressing for younger children.
Here are some ways parents can reassure their children and address some of their commonly asked questions during this period.
What is Covid-19? Why are people dying from it?
Many parents may think that refraining from watching the news or not discussing the pandemic can help protect their children from distress. On the contrary, it would be beneficial for them to initiate the discussion and address any concerns children may have regarding the current situation. This prevents them from being unnecessarily alarmed, scared or anxious should he/she access the news or unreliable information online by him/herself.
Take the initiative to ask:
- What do you know about Covid-19? What is Covid-19? (Sample Answer: It stands for “Coronavirus Disease 2019” which is a new virus that medical experts are still researching on to find out more on.)
- Do you know what the signs and symptoms are?
- Do you know what we should do to protect ourselves?
Take the opportunity to teach personal hygiene and help children develop social responsibility by guiding them on:
- The importance of wearing a face mask, keeping our hands clean, maintaining physical distance
- The correct way to wash hands in a creative way (try singing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing hands for the ideal hand-washing duration.)
While parents do not need to have all the answers, being available to engage your child is a great place to start!
Get your child’s sleeping pattern back on track by having him/her go to bed early and wake up on time for school at least a few days before school resumes.
Why were schools closed before but are now resuming in phases?
Children rely on regularity for a sense of control. As children return to school, they will have to adapt to new routines that come along with added safety measures. Here are some ideas to help you better prepare your child for the transition.
- Get your child’s sleeping pattern back on track by having him/her go to bed early and wake up on time for school at least a few days before school resumes.
- Get your child involved with some of the preparations for school (e.g. Preparing their uniforms and packing their school bags together a few days beforehand.)
- Try to focus on the positivity and excitement about returning to school through light-hearted conversations. You may ask your child questions such as “Who do you miss the most from school?”, “What will you order from the canteen on your first day back in school?” or “What is the first thing you want to do when you return to school?”
Discuss the importance of practising safe distancing at school
Will things go back to normal after school re-opens? Can I play with my friends at school?
It is important to understand that everyone has social needs, even children. They may also experience a sense of loss and isolation and would be eager to play or express their affection towards their friends and teachers after the circuit breaker.
What you can do:
- Acknowledge and validate their feelings
- Discuss the importance of practising safe distancing at school
- Brainstorm for alternative ways for them to play and interact with their friends:
- Online educational games (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/best-for-learning-lists)
- Play online board games i.e. . Monopoly, Scrabble, The Game of Life
- Watch an online movie together
- Go on a virtual tour of zoos or national parks of the world i.e BBC, Singapore Zoo
Taking a little time to have these conversations with your child can help him/her feel assured and supported, which may help them grow more confident in managing future challenges.
If you need more advice or information on how you can better care for your child’s mental and emotional health, please call TOUCHline at 1800 377 2252 to speak with one of the TOUCH counsellors.
This article is contributed by TOUCH Integrated Family Group.