My Kids are Asking About Coronavirus - What Should I Do?by Robert Dunne
One thing that can be easily overlooked during the panic of this coronavirus situation is that, although they are off school and most likely loving that, our kids may be as nervous about the whole situation as we adults are, and, in the same way, that we are looking after ourselves in these times, we also need to consider our kids.
As a result, I’ve compiled some of the possible questions you or your kid may have about the situation and give some solutions that may help out. Despite this, I should say these responses may not be the best approach with each kid, so if you think that is the case, then go with your gut mama! (or papa!)
"What is Coronavirus?"
One thing to note, they may not say it like this! If they are unable to properly talk yet, they may simply point at a news report and say what is that, or they may not know how to say coronavirus so they may say something different, but this does not mean their question should be ignored.
As I’m sure you will appreciate, discussing the death aspect of coronavirus is a big no-no, as much as I may like to see how a toddler realising the futility of life may happen, it’s definitely not a good idea, so leave their midlife crisis to when they’re actually there.
A good way to approach the subject would be to compare it to something they may know, it doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% accurate, but comparing the virus to something like maybe a funny tummy, or a headache that they may already experience or know the word for can be an easy way for them to picture and comprehend what is happening. If your child is a bit older, they may understand what a cold is, and so make the easy comparison to something like that.
If they begin asking why it’s on TV or why everyone is talking about it, once again, avoid the death approach, but maybe explain how there are ‘people’ because not many adults really understand the workings of British politics let alone a toddler, and these people are working to try and help the ill people get better. There is no need to go into the details because even I get bored listening to the constant conversations about ventilators and beds so no toddler is going to want to hear it either.
"Why do we have to stay at home?"
So, this is a question that will involve some of the bits from the previous question, as well as some new bits, so if you haven’t read the previous question get yourself up to speed then come back here.
See this question can be answered very simply because you can practically answer it in the same way with kids of any age who won’t be able to understand the idea of quarantine. All that needs to be explained is that, the people who are ill need our help, and that if we get too near to the people who are ill we could make them worse, so we have been asked to stay indoors to help keep them happy and healthy. This answer can be simplified to we need to help the ill people, or made more advanced by any amount you wish depending on how old your children are, but you don’t need to go any further than explain how it is to help, as that is all they would likely understand.
How can I keep my kids entertained?
This is a more difficult question, simply because every situation is different, which I know is the case for everyone, but it becomes more of an issue here. See, one of the easiest ways to keep them busy and occupied is with the work schools may have set them if they are old enough, although for younger children this won’t be as easy as they won’t have been at school.
This, however, doesn’t mean you can’t keep them educated. Why not try getting them doing some reading? Or find them some simple online video lessons they can watch. If they’re a bit older, they could do some writing, whether that's writing a story or improving their handwriting there are options there to choose from. A fun game you could try is ‘Pass the Story’ where one person says a sentence to start a story, then the next person says the next sentence, and so on, until a story is made. This can be a great way of getting them thinking whilst also providing opportunities for a lot of laughs as a family.
If, however, like many you are working from home, I can appreciate how this may not be easy. And with this quarantine comes the removal of the friend’s house option, meaning...you’re stuck with them! This isn’t as hellish a scenario as it may seem. An easy way to keep them out of your hair may be to set them tasks and reward them for completing the task. Say, for example, you ask them to draw you a picture of something, they come back with the picture, and as a reward, they can watch an episode of their favourite TV show. If doing this, try not to use food-based rewards, the last thing you need is a sugar rush to deal with or a funny tummy from sweets! Other things you could do could be, if you have a garden, why not let them have a run around for a bit, keeping an eye on them obviously, but this could mean they are not only keeping fit, but they are losing the energy they may otherwise use to pester you and instead will be tired and so may want to nap, meaning they are out of your hair for a little while so you can work.