Sometimes the wise idea of not involving children in adult concerns at home does not apply in times of crisis like the one we are currently facing. We are bombarded with information about the coronavirus, the number of people getting sick, number of dead individuals, etc. It is impossible to contain all this information and children, as well as adults, get overwhelmed with all the reports. As adults we want to protect the children from negative events. This current crisis, as many in the past, will go away. In the meantime, one way in which we can protect our children is talking with them about the crisis. But, let’s talk at their level and about what is a concern for them and not for us as adults. In talking with some children at this time in crisis I learned that when you ask them what is happening and if they have any concerns, you get adult responses. However, when go deeper in your questioning the great majority of children have no idea what a virus is or what it can to you. If you ask them what they are really worried about they may come up with un-expected answers. Let me give you some examples:
– “I worry about my dog… what if he gets sick?”
– “My parents told me that my home is the safest place, but my grandmother does not live with us, is she safe?”
– (From divorced parents) “Can my dad move back until the virus goes away?”
– “Dad, do you think that my mom may die with this virus?”
– “If God is good, why do we have this virus?”
– “Are my friends from the school safe in their houses?”
– “Will I see my friends again?”
Many questions that we may not ask, children do ask. The concerns that we have in our adult world may not exist in the children’s world. Not being a problem for me does not mean it is not a problem for my child either. Some children have a good disposition for asking questions when they want to know something. At the same time there are many children who prefers not to talk or ask questions about “difficult” situation, being concerned about the adults’ reactions or that his/her question is too silly to be taken into consideration.
In brief, my suggestion is to talk with your children “at their level” about the current situation, and when you finish explaining what you think is important, ask your child if he /she has any questions. Prompt questions such as “are you worried about your friends?”, “are you concerned about your grandparents?”, “are you worried about our cat, dog?” Finally, stress that soon we are going to go back to school, the movies, visiting friends, and our favorite restaurant. We just need to be a little bit patient.
Questions and comments welcome.