How to talk to your kids about COVID-19 and Germs
With their curious minds, kids somehow have the most difficult questions and answering most of them may seem like a challenge to us parents. COVID-19 is just one of those difficult questions that have to be answered. Any rapidly changing situation makes us as human beings feel like we’re out of control. But having the right information and right ways to communicate to your kids, will make it much easier for us to get through this together.
The isolation of quarantine may affect some children resulting in them being anxious, bored, uncertain. So how do you explain to your kids that they’ll have less playground time and less time with their friends because of invisible germs? Since COVID-19 has become a part of our daily conversation in these past few months, an honest and open discussion with your kids can make them feel safe and learn how to cope better. Here is how you can make teaching kids about germs & COVID-19 easier:
Explaining Germs to Kids
Learn and educate: Before talking to your kids about the ongoing situation, always remember to learn first. As we all tell our kids, learning never stops. A good place to start would be the World Health Organization (WHO) website which will give you all the tips and tricks to stay safe. Once you’re prepared with all the information you need, the next step is communicating to your kids. Ask your kids about what they already know. This can guide the conversation as you can
help them differentiate between rumours and facts.
Narrate facts through a story: A kid’s attention span is about two or three times their age, so mere facts is not going to help grab their attention. When you’re teaching kids about germs and a topic like COVID-19, try narrating a story. Create an entire avatar for COVID-19, make it the villain in the story. This villain can be present anywhere. Explain to your kids that the game is avoiding COVID-19 getting to you. If you go out and touch unhygienic spaces, the villain will get to you. Meeting friends during COVID-19 is dangerous because the villain will try to get you in open spaces. How do you stay safe from this villain? You must wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and always use the superhero - the Sanitizer. Narrating facts through a story will not only help you communicate to your kid easily, but at the same time, it will help them remember basic hygiene rules that will keep them safe.
Comic books: Comic books are not only a visual treat but they also help kids learn a lot about the world. During the course of this pandemic, many organizations with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO), have published various books and comic books to help kids learn better about COVID-19 and help them cope during this isolated period. A great example of a book that teaches kids about germs is a book called “My Hero Is You,” which is written for children around the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lead character Ario helps children understand why the coronavirus is changing their lives and how to cope when they are feeling worried, angry or sad. One can find many such resources online which will help kids better understand and cope with the current situation. Teaching kids about germs need not be a drag.
Demonstrate hand washing: Okay, let’s be honest. Kids are not big on hygiene, until they are told to be. As we know, maintaining a good hygiene is one of the most important things during COVID-19 and washing our hands plays a big role here. One of the tricks to get your kid to wash their hands frequently, is making them sing a song while they wash their hands. Pick any of their favourite songs, and make them sing it for a good 20 seconds while they wash their hands. Many organizations have also released songs and jingles that teach kids about germs and simultaneously show the fun in safe hand hygiene.
Draw your fears: Make your kids paint COVID-19 as the scary villain. Encourage them to demonstrate ways through their drawings on how they can fight this villain. This not only keeps them occupied, but also helps them cope with whatever anxiety and fears they might have about COVID-19, as by drawing, we’re showing them how COVID-19 can be reduced to a mere villain on a piece of paper and how there are already superpowers in place, such as handwashing, that will help them defeat this villain and make them the ultimate superhero.
Be a role model: Always remember to practice what you preach. Children will always learn from your actions. Teach them about social distancing. Tell them that even though they cannot hug their friends like before, that only means more hugs for family. Always remember to reward good behaviour. Washing hands may be a simple task, but it can go a long way for the health of your kid. Make sure they are aware of how important it is to stay hygienic.
Let your kids know it’s okay to be scared: It’s an overwhelming time for all of us, even as adults. So let your kids know, it’s okay to be scared. Encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, and be a good listener!
This pandemic is a scary time for all of us, but establishing a routine can help provide a sense of control, predictability, calm, and well-being. Make this quarantine period a way to reconnect with your family and be more involved. Have a karaoke night with your family, organize Taco Tuesday, engage them in arts & crafts, go outside (while being safe, of course) and connect with nature. Talking to your kids about COVID-19 is one thing, but keeping them occupied is a whole other ballgame! STEM Education is a great way of learning while being confined to the four walls of your home during this pandemic. Don’t let an idle mind be the devil’s workshop.
Now that you know better about teaching kids about germs & COVID-19, don’t forget to look out for yourself. Take a deep breath, sit back and spend some much appreciated quality time with your family.