Many children and young people are suffering from the corona pandemic: The situation can unsettle them and trigger fears in them. Even the little ones notice from the change in their routine that something is wrong. How you can best respond to your children’s concerns, what you should talk to them about and what you can offer them specifically to support them.
People in breathing masks, closed daycare centers, no contact with their grandparents – even small children perceive such changes in their environment and everyday life and may find them threatening and frightening. Restlessness and anxiety can be the result, but also physical symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain or headaches. Already discarded behaviors may return: for example, children react strongly to farewell situations or wet themselves.
The corona crisis can also trigger fears and worries among young people. If you deal intensively with the effects of the pandemic on society, you may develop fears about the future. Others feel they have been treated unfairly. Meeting friends, attending events, traveling – the corona crisis has severely restricted your life.
Talk to your child about the current situation
- Give consolation to small and school children : Why is my day care canter closed? Can my family get infected with the virus and become seriously ill? Children of toddler, preschool and school age can already think about many questions.
- Talk specifically about the children’s concerns so that they are not alone with possible scenarios they come up with. Be attentive, patient, and answer honestly, but age appropriately .
- Avoid expressing your own fears or assumptions in such a way that you could stir up panic in your child.
- Try. To convey calm and security in conversation gives consolation.
- Explain that not everyone who catches the coronavirus will get seriously ill with it – and most people recover well. Children of toddler and preschool age do not yet understand diseases and their origins . Schoolchildren can already understand illnesses better: They can talk to them in more detail about the virus, but keep the explanations as simple as possible. A comparison with the flu can help.
- Communicate why older people like grandma and grandpa need special protection.
- Make it clear to them that they are not to blame for the virus, but that you can help defeat it by washing your hands and keeping your distance .
- Take all young people’s feelings seriously: Discuss the latest news with your child . Teenagers can easily get misinformation that they should correct. If you don’t know something yourself, you can work together on the basis of reputable sources.
- Also, take seriously the frustration of home-schooling, the annoyance of missed events, or other options by talking about them in depth. The likelihood that your child will open up and talk about their own worries is much higher .
Structure the day
Children of all age groups benefit greatly from routines: They give them security and support. Therefore, plan a fixed daily routine and include your children in the process. At best, home-schooling is planned in exactly the same way as a real walk into the classroom. Set sleep, meal, school work, housework and play times and plan relaxation phases in which everyone can do what they want . Also set a fixed screen time together. For children up to five years of age, experts recommend limiting use to up to half an hour per day, for children from six to nine years of age up to an hour. From the age of ten, the following applies: one hour of screen time per week per year is okay.
Plan for daily exercise
Exercise is so crucial because it relieves stress and negative emotions. With smaller children you can go on trips to the forest or park, for example. Older children are more demanding: Offer to jog together, go on a bike ride or train at home in bad weather with the help of a YouTube tutorial. Tip : If you take regular walks after home-schooling or working from your own home office, develop a ritual that will help you and your child switch off.
Be a role model for your children in dealing with the virus
Children are strongly influenced by the behaviour of their parents. They are based on the parents’ reactions and conversations. In order to be of support for your child, it is therefore important that you remain calm not only when talking to your child, but also with your partner or when talking to friends on the phone. This also means that you do not consume too many media reports about the corona pandemic. Also, exemplify important behaviours, such as washing hands and following the rules of distance. Write letters to your grandparents or friends together, make phone calls or use video telephony, WhatsApp and the like . In this way you convey to your children that you can keep in touch without meeting each other in person.
Offer your children employment opportunities
Most leisure activities are cancelled, childcare and educational facilities are closed – children have to spend a lot of time with themselves and at home in their rooms. The digital media are of course obvious. Make a joint selection which offers are possible in the permitted screen time per day.
Public broadcasting, for example, has bundled many educational offers and makes them available free of charge.
Outside of the digital world, there are of course a number of ways to keep children busy. You could try relaxation techniques together, for example, or just turn up the music and dance together. Always offer your child new employment opportunities, depending on their age and interests. You can read, do puzzles, solve puzzles, paint, do handicrafts, play board games or listen to radio plays.