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To help flatten the curve and help stop the spread of COVID-19, health departments around the world are encouraging social distancing. In many places, this had led to shelter-in-place orders and closing non-essential businesses and schools. As a result, millions of children are now at home, cooped up, and filled with questions about what is to come and how they should go about their daily lives.
At Brain Forest Centers, we understand the importance of communicating with children and how age-appropriate explanations can help ease their anxiety and keep them informed on a need-to-know basis. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help parents explain social distancing to children.
Talk About Social Distancing and COVID-19 Honestly
By now, children know that something has happened, and they’ve likely heard the terms pandemic, COVID-19, and coronavirus. Hearing these terms from other people besides their parents can leave school-aged children with more questions than answers.
In a recent Forbes article, Dr. Neha Chaudhary says, “Parents should be prepared for some kids to ask the extreme questions, like what happens if someone dies and whether something is going to happen to them or their parents.”
Dr. Chaudhary goes on to suggest that parents should gauge what their children know and then fill in any blanks or answer questions honestly and calmly. Use age-appropriate explanations and keep things simple. If you’re a parent and are still struggling to explain the effects of the coronavirus, use these online resources:
- This NPR comic is fun to read and answers a lot of questions your child may have.
- BrainPOP’s short films educate children without talking down to them.
- Brain’s On! podcast is excellent for children, and they’ve dedicated an entire episode to explaining the virus.
Keep News Watching to A Minimum
Staying informed is essential for parents, but this doesn’t help explain social distancing and the spread of the virus in a way kids can understand. With so many deaths reported daily and all the technical jargon used in the media, your child could develop more anxiety from hearing these stories and having a wild imagination.
Instead, turn off the TV whenever possible and answer any questions your child has about the pandemic positively and optimistically. Let them know that, yes, people are dying because of the illness, but that social distancing and staying home is saving many more lives. Keep things light and let them know that as long as they stay home, they are safe.
Practice Social Distancing at Home
One of the best ways to communicate the social effects of COVID-19 to children is to practice it in your everyday life. Part of staying safe is not attending large gatherings and events, no matter who’s in attendance. We’ve seen many parents practice social distancing by canceling birthday parties and taking fewer trips to the park, especially during peak hours.
Still, your child needs time for activities and playtime. They even need social interactions, which is why we always suggest you explain that just because you can’t visit people in person, it doesn’t mean you can’t check in on them virtually. Set aside time to FaceTime or Skype with family members and schedule virtual playdates with your child’s friends so they can practice safe social distancing, see their friends, and satisfy their developmental needs.
Take Care of Yourself
Don’t forget about your mental health as a parent. It’s easy to get wrapped up in keeping the kids occupied and calming their nerves, but caring for your individual needs is just as important. As a parent, it’s easy to feel isolated during this time, which is why we put together this helpful guide for adults to help you keep your sanity as well!
Stay Sane with Brain Forest Centers
Social distancing is stressful, especially if you have young children at home who don’t understand what’s going on. This additional stress and anxiety can take a toll on your little one’s behavior and mental state. Our experts at Brain Forest Centers can help alleviate fear, anxiety, and depression for superheroes of all ages. If you or your children are struggling with the new challenges that the coronavirus has presented, contact our team at (317) 288-9828 for help today.