COVID-19 has been quite the ride for our family over the last few weeks. And it’s a trip that keeps us on our toes with constant changes. The other day, I told our youngest, Hannah, who is five, that she needed to change her pants before we went out (let’s just say Swiss cheese has less holes than Hannah’s black leggings). She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders, and said “I get it Mom. It’s because of the Corona virus”. Kids are little sponges absorbing everything that is happening, even if the context is not always there. As Christian parents and grandparents, we know we have hope in Jesus and need to be able to communicate hope in a world that communicates chaos. Here are some suggestions on how to create some normalcy for those little humans in your care.
TALKING TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING
- Take a deep breath. The world is in chaos, but in our faith, we can speak peace into the chaos around us
- Communicate calmness – in your tone, in your facial expressions, in your body language. Kids will take cues from how we behave.
- Stabilize the situation – not to make light of what is happening in the world, but to create a safe space for kids to process events in their developmental understanding. Kids need to know they are safe and that they are loved. Saturate kids in God’s truth, that He has them in His hands, no matter what
- Create consistency. With shifting schedules, try to keep routines as normal as they can be. Routines and predictability make kids feel safe
- Kids have a built-in ‘detector’. You know the kind. Depending on their developmental age, share the truth with kids about the situation
- Kids want simple, honest answers. They don’t need long, laborious explanations. Too much detail can create anxiety. Use short, concise verbiage that is appropriate for their age and level of understanding
- Address their concerns. You may think the child’s fears are not valid, but they are real in your child’s world
- You will get questions about how God can let this happen. Be honest - we don’t know why. The only thing we know is that God is good, and He has a plan. We need to trust His plan and pray for those around us
Be A DETECTIVE
- Open up the conversation casually. Maybe it’s talking about what is happening while putting together a Frozen puzzle (that you have done for the millionth time) or while playing a video game together. Talking about what is happening in the world does not have to be a formal ‘family sit down’
- Be intuitive. When kids have a processing overload (meaning, their brain cannot keep up with the information happening around them), they may act out. Rather than going to discipline right away, try to dig in and see what they are trying to tell you through their behaviour
- Draw everything back to Jesus. We have a Savior who resonates with all our worries and fears
Be AN EXAMPLE
- Model a positive confidence about the topic
- Pray! When tucking the kids in for night, pray for the situation
- Model proper hand washing and social distance
- Involve kids in your activities – give them a wipe to clean off the surfaces and doorknobs or have them teach their younger cousins or siblings proper handwashing. Give them responsibility, which empowers them to teach others
- Limit screen time – I know, I know, but hear me out. Although easier to hand your kid a tablet and let them go nuts, these routines start out small and innocent, and grow into larger addictions. Unlimited gaming and isolated screen time will create habits that will be hard to curb once the situation changes
- Be generous and kind. These habits build resilience in kids. Resilient kids handle stress and anxiety better and are able to bounce back when knocked down. Do activities that benefit others around you – take out your neighbour’s trash, deliver groceries to someone who cannot go out. Have the kids come up with ideas. A lot of the time, they are more creative with their generosity
SO WHAT CAN YOU SAY TO YOUR KID?
We ran into this the other day when my ten-year-old came into our room, in tears, because she had ‘shortness of breath’. She had heard that this was a symptom and was now convinced she had the virus. Honestly…I was watching a really good show and had to consciously stop what I was doing to give her my full attention. So, the key thing when talking to a kid about anything - full attention.
- First, I heard out her fears. Name the fear so you can deal with the fear directly. Afterwards:
- I asked her, “Who is in charge of everything?”. She answered “Jesus”
- I asked “So, who can we trust knows 100% what is going on?” Again, “Jesus”
This set the tone for the conversation. Jesus is at the centre of the topic
- We then chatted facts. The reason why we are stopping school, church, and not going public places is not because there is a giant cloud virus running around from house to house trying to come in. You say virus, and in the active mind of a kid, they hear and see this:
We need to put their hearts and minds at peace that they are safe
- I explained that its hard for healthy kids to get sick with this virus. For a kid it is like a bad cold, but for a senior (I named a few people my daughter has a relationship with), it could make them sick enough to die. We are staying home to stop the spreading and chances of people getting sick. We are doing this because we love those people
- We then prayed together for the people in our lives who needed protection
WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS AT HOME?
Reality is that we now have kids who are going to be at home for longer than we all thought. Kids need routine and activity. Here are a couple of ways to keep that going through this tough time.
Check out Ridgekids.ca for the weekly lesson that you can implement at home.
(you need a username and password for access. Email email@example.com for that info)
We will continue to follow our weekly curriculum plan and have added some resources for parents to run their own lessons at home. There are also links to our regular worship songs. If you need 'stuff' - pipe cleaners, flannel graphs, construction paper, etc., to prepare for the lesson, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)! I am happy to get stuff together for you that you can pick up at the church.
We will continue to build this out as we adjust to doing church a little different than normal.
Monday to Saturday
- Check out the list of activities to do with your kids. I challenge you to do these, and send me your pictures!
- Check out a sample schedule here for toddlers
- Check out a sample schedule here for older kids
- RidgeKids Spotify Playlist K-4: HERE
- RidgeKids Spotify Playlist Preschool: HERE
Share your stories!
We are in this together! I would love to hear your stories and see your pictures. Email all your fun activities and Sunday morning experiences to email@example.com, or post your pictures to Instagram and tag @ridgekids.
I would love to see how your family is doing as we walk this journey together.
In this with you all the way! -- Anna Koehn