Kids and Understanding COVID-19
Seek out reputable sources such as the WHO (World Health Organization) or government websites, so that you are not spreading misinformation to your children. Do not rely on sources from social media, or any website that doesn’t provide reliable citations. Staying glued to the news 24/7 is unnecessary and can be anxiety-inducing, but your local CBC station is a great source to provide daily updates.
Start by Asking What Your Child Knows
This will open the dialogue, include them as an engaged participant in the conversation, and give you an opportunity to squash any false facts they have heard from social media or friends.
Keep it Age-Appropriate
Reading and hearing about COVID-19 is scary for children & parents alike, so there is no need to over-complicate it. Keep the conversation age-appropriate, use terms and concepts they can understand, especially once you start discussing the science or social issues.
Things you can explain to them might include:
- Why are schools closed?
- What is social distancing?
- What should we do when we sneeze and cough?
- How to wash our hands properly, and why?
- Why should we not touch our faces?
- What steps we should take to protect ourselves outside the house?
- What do they mean when they say “flatten the curve”?
If you are having a hard time answering any of their questions, we recommend this podcast answering children’s “harder” questions: Coronacast – We Answer Kids’ Questions
OR this family-friendly video that you can watch together: Explaining Coronavirus to Kids
Additionally, Local Calgary Bloggers Crackmacs has compiled all the local resources in one spot: https://crackmacs.ca/covid-19/resource-guide-covid-19-calgary/
…last but not least, we have this message from Lego Trudeau for children:
Activities about Handwashing:
- Singing Happy Birthday, Baby Shark, or other favourite songs, while washing their hands
- Handwashing surface coverage using paint
- Soap & Pepper Trick
- Allow them to help you disinfect groceries, clean the kitchen, and other household tasks.
Don’t Spread Germs – Spread Positivity:
- Paint words of encouragement on rocks and leave them in different places around your neighbourhood
- message on your window using water-based paints. It is important to use water-based paints, as they can be easily washed off the window using soap and warm water.
- Skip the paint! Cut out flowers and rainbows, using construction paper, and stick them to your window.
- Write happy messages on the sidewalk for others to see, using sidewalk chalk.
- Express gratitude! Have your kids write three things they are thankful for every day.
Be the Voice of Reason
Be honest, be calm, and give your kids the facts.
- Explain to them that people are just as likely to catch the flu or a cold.
- COVID-19 does not affect children as much as adults.
- Masks prevent the spreading through water droplets, versus air pollutants.
- COVID-19 can be prevented as long as safety measures are taken seriously.
- Teach about cleaning methods (warm soap and water) to prevent spreading germs.
Keeping your child up to date will allow for open communication so they can ask you questions whenever they have any. It will also provide them comfort instead of being left wondering about what is going on. We cannot provide them an end date for when this will all be over, but we can keep them informed.
Adjusting to the “New Normal”
Try your best to keep to a regular schedule. Kids require structure; so despite being home from school, try planning out your day – keeping regular meal times, nap times, etc. to maintain a sense of normalcy.
Limit screen time or monitor how they are using media and technology. There can be potentially scary media coverage, so limit their exposure, or find positive ways to repurpose technology. Time on smartphones, tablets, and laptops can be repurposed to video-chat with grandparents or friends. This will help kids understand that everyone else is also staying home alone too. Understandably, you might be using screen time to distract them for your own sanity; but look into what parental controls your electronics provide, and find healthy ways that are engaging rather than passive. For example, Youtube Kids is a safer choice than regular Youtube, and many other streaming apps have “Kids” versions to help keep inappropriate content away from young ones.
Here are some other ideas to keep them occupied:
- The Calgary Zoo posts a new activity, every day: https://www.calgaryzoo.com/visit/daily-activities
- Avenue Calgary has an entire list of activities: https://www.avenuecalgary.com/things-to-do/what-to-do-with-your-kids-while-practicing-social-distancing-calgary/