(Tampa, FL – August 23) — As counties wrestle with how and when to open their doors, parents are searching for ways to talk to their children about all the changes taking place. Several families are facing food insecurity, mental health issues, and financial strain, it can be difficult to know how to help children cope with it all.
“Our children are watching how we are dealing with the change around us,” says Marta Varee Pearson, a trauma specialist and author of the book Reclaiming Extraordinary Living: Trauma Recovery to Heal and Thrive. “It’s our job to be mindful of the ways we’re showing up in the midst of our worry, and that we have meaningful conversations with our kids about all that’s happening.”
Marta says that as many children hear conversations about Coronavirus, they may experience increasing paranoia or confusion. She suggests talking to your children about their concerns and being careful to open those conversations the right way.
Four suggestions for talking to your children about the pandemic (and a possible return to the classroom):
1. Not talking is not an option. “Remember that while our intentions may be noble, we don’t protect our children by not talking to them. It allows their imaginations to run wild, which can be harmful to them understanding the reality of the situation.”
2. Speak in simple terms. “Begin with questions, because you might overprovide information and still not answer what your children wanted to know. So start by asking them directly what their concerns are.”
3. Do not take the conversation to the couch. “Avoid the temptation to make your talk formal. Tough conversations should never be the main activity, that should always be a part of another activity. Bring up the subject while you are gardening, tossing the ball, or cooking dinner together.”
4. Talk on their level. “There’s no need to explain in detail what the virus is. Some adults don’t even understand what the virus is. Focus instead on action items. What do you want them to do? Instructions like, “Wear a mask. Make sure it covers your mouth and nose” are helpful. And then let them know they can talk to you whenever they have questions.”
ABOUT Marta Van Pearson
Marta Van Pearson is a speaker, trainer, trauma specialist, and author of the book Reclaiming Extraordinary Living: Trauma Recovery to Heal and Thrive. She has more than 40 years of experience helping individuals and large organizations navigate difficult changes in pursuit of extraordinary living. For more information visit trainingwithmarta.com.