What a week! If you’ve been wondering how to talk to your children about what’s going on in our world here are some “what to say” tips.
We will hear from lots of experts in the coming days and weeks about how we should handle this pandemic with our children. We should glean good advice where we can. (I find this article particularly helpful.)
But let’s not forget as parents common sense and good judgement go a long way. Even more comforting, God has called us to steer and guide our children and he does not leave us unequipped. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…so let’s seek him through this all. ¹
Here are some thoughts on “what to say” to your children:
1. Keep it age-appropriate.
We need to be truthful so our children trust us, but we need to keep it age-appropriate to protect them from unnecessary worry (again, common sense!).
In small children ignorance can be bliss. Many who aren’t in school may have no idea what’s going on. My 2.5 year old is completely unaware and I will keep it that way. I gave my 7, 10, and 12 year old different amounts of information based on their age and maturity level.
2. Keep calm.
Sometimes it’s not what we say but how we say it. Despite what we may be feeling inside, it behooves us as captains of our little ship to keep the crew calm. So I talk to my children in a loving, confident yet matter of fact way.
3. Keep it short and to the point.
Children don’t need to know ALL the grizzly details. That just creates unnecessary anxiety. For my seven year old, it’s things like this:
“There is a virus going around. That is why school closed early. We don’t need to panic because so far not that many people have gotten it in the U.S. But people in our country our staying home to prevent it spreading so we can go back to our normal lives soon. So we are going to make the most of this family time at home and have lots of fun.”
When they ask why I bought a bunch of groceries or canned food:
Just like you have fire drills at school even though the chance of a fire is very small, as your parent it’s my job as to be prepared for things that might disrupt our lives for a little bit.
Both these phrases imply that things will go back to normal. There will be an end point to this.
4. Let them ask questions.
A great piece of advice from that Sissy Goff article. Give children a succinct explanation of what’s going on (if necessary) and then ask them if they have any questions. A four year might only ask if he can still have ice cream and be on his way! Children are way more resilient than we think. Especially if parents are calm!
Note: they will probably have questions here and there throughout this period of disruption. Don’t shoo them away but answer them truthfully and age appropriately.
5. You be the source of information.
We started our motherhood mentorship group this week and the theme is building trust and instilling truth in our children – so timely for our current climate.
We discussed how children need to see us the authority on things. The source of information, as Sissy Goff says. You want them to get their information from you.
So be mindful of cable news blaring in the background or being on Facetime with your mom who is letting out all her worries or a friend who is sharing her virus conspiracy theories because little ears are always listening!
Also: if your children have devices they probably are picking up information on YouTube or in a game chat. Be the filter for them.
If you are interested in being part of our Motherhood Mentorship group if we do it again, let us know here.
6. Fill them with truth.
Remind them that God is in control, loves them and they can trust Him in ALL things. This is where we can use Scripture to comfort everyone’s unease.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Ephesians 1:11
It is a good time to break out a story Bible and let them see that God has a plan for us and is not surprised by what is happening around us. Let’s ground our children in truth.
7. Make them feel part of the team.
For my older girls that have read a lot of historical fiction this really feels like a moment in history. An opportunity to rely on God and on each other. We’ve already had some bickering in our home. So I said this to my older girls:
United we stand, divided we fall. Girls, a few weeks at home is going to be a lot harder if we are divided. Let’s unite as a family. When we see someone that needs help, help them. When we see a chore that needs be done, do it. Let’s make this easier on one another. Let’s do this together and come out stronger for it.
How are you talking about the virus with your children? Please share this article if you found it helpful!
Sources: Easter bunny pajamas here.
Photo: Audrie Dollins