Some anxiety is normal during this time, but that doesn’t make talking about it any easier. There are many people thinking about the question of how to talk to kids about COVID-19, so I have included links to two good articles below with more comprehensive information and specific resources.
- You are having all the feels, they are having all the feels; take the opportunity to talk about emotions
- Ask them what they have heard about coronavirus, which can help guide the conversation & make sure they have accurate information
- Try creative ways to talk about feelings
- Try a color scale (green=calm; yellow=worried; red=mad, etc)
- Make up words to describe how you’re feeling (e.g. hangry)
- Talking during an activity like walking, stretching, or doing a puzzle
- Write it out
- Trust yourself; you’ve talked to them about hard things before
- Take care of yourself (you’re modeling self-care at the same time)
- Find things you & they can control (Clean up toys! Make a schedule!)
- Schedule worry time once per day (instead of letting worries intrude all the time); avoid right before bed
In summary, make sure you dedicate some time to talk to your kids about what’s going on. No doubt they’ve heard about it and are processing it. Better to help them along a healthy path than to take the chance that they will sort it out on their own. In helping them, you’re helping yourself too.
Jacynda Wheeler DO is a psychiatrist in the Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Department at Island Hospital. She received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine certificate from Pacific Northwest University. Wheeler completed a psychiatry internship at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and a residency at University of Washington, Seattle. For information or appointments, call Psychiatry & Behavioral Health at (360) 299-4297.