How should I talk to my kids about the coronavirus? IWK psychologist weighs in
HALIFAX -- With so much happening around the world, and the disruptions to everyday life due to coronavirus, some parents may feel overwhelmed about how to speak to their children about what’s going on.
“Even though as a parent you might not feel equipped at all to parent through this, no one knows your child like you, so parents are best equipped in terms of talking to and supporting their child,” says Dr. Laura Connors, a clinical psychologist at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.
Connors explains that every child is different, and that will require different approaches to discussing a situation like the coronavirus pandemic.
“Thinking about, does my child do better with a bit more information or will it be better for them to know a little bit less?” explains Connors. “Speaking to them in a way that is appropriate for their age and stage.”
Many parents are wondering how to bring up the pandemic in a way that will be reassuring and not make kids more worried than they already may be.
Connors says that it is important to be clear, direct and give information based on the facts from reputable sources, but not to feel like you have to answer every question at one time.
“Your child may ask some questions that you don’t know how to answer, and that may be because you genuinely don’t know the answer, or it may be a moment that you’re feeling very anxious and keyed up, and it’s absolutely OK to say, ‘I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you on that’,” she says.
Connors says kids thrive on routine and structure, so maintaining a sense of normalcy in a time that is anything but can help them feel grounded, secure and calm.
“We can expect some changes in behaviour, and those changes in behaviour right now are very normal,” she says. “If things are really starting to impact and impair a child functionally in terms of their day to day, then certainly that is a time to start thinking about seeking some more report and direction around that.”