COVID-19, novel coronavirus … everywhere we turn, we are hearing continual updates and advice. So are our children. As parents, there is no more helpless feeling then the inability to protect our children from a threat over which we have no control. While as a parent you may not be able to stop the disease, you can help reassure you children and yourself by taking action.
The greatest source of fear with this newest coronavirus is based upon what we don’t know. The best way to combat our fear of the unknown is to gather knowledge. One of the benefits of this age of technology in which we live is that information is at our fingertips. Once we are more comfortable with the subject matter, as parents we need to remember to also share information with our children in an age-appropriate manner. Shielding our children from knowledge may initially feel like protection, but children will listen and observe and draw their own conclusions, which may be even scarier than the truth. By keeping an open dialogue in our homes, we are offering our children knowledge which leads to comfort and protection.
Whenever we share information with our children, we need to keep in mind that one size does not fit all. We need to be aware of our child’s age and developmental ability to understand and to reason. For young children, their main concern is that they will be ok. A simple action statement, “We are all washing our hands to stay healthy” and modeling the same behavior may be all that is needed. You can also ask the youngest members of your family if they have any questions. If the answer is “no”, then no further explanation is needed. If you are asked a question, respond to the question only, being careful to not add any extra details. For example, “Am I going to get sick?” may be answered “I am going to do everything in my power to help you stay healthy”. Look for the meaning behind the question. In the previous example, what your child is really asking you is if you are going to take care of them. They are looking for reassurance and a hug.
If your children are older, you can share resources with them, and ask them to share their resources with you. As a family you can discuss what you are hearing online and in the news, and develop an action plan to help keep your family safe. Use this opportunity to empower your children. Teaching our children that they have control over their actions, if not the circumstances, is a powerful tool that will serve them throughout their lives. Review the medical guidelines and make a list, as a family, of the actions all of you can take to stay healthy as possible.
Nobody wants to deal with a pandemic. Everyone is looking for answers and reassurance. Use this time of uncertainty as an opportunity to bond your family. By strengthening your home base, you are offering your children, and yourself, strength that will endure long after this pandemic is resolved.
For more information: Mobile Therapy Centers (MTC) is a private therapy company offering individual services to children and families, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, and ABA therapy for children on the autism spectrum. For more information, please contact MTC at firstname.lastname@example.org or # 847-816-7200.
This article was written by Carol Morrone, Manager of Educational Services & Development for Mobile Therapy Centers