The coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruptions to every part of our daily lives. For parents, teachers, and caregivers, protecting the children in their lives has been a priority. They have persistently taught children to wash their hands thoroughly with soap, wear masks and maintain social distance to help prevent the virus from spreading. They have continuously reassured children that these safety precautions are in place to protect them, their friends, and their families.
However, even with all these assurances, children are feeling these changes deeply. Perhaps they also hear about people getting sick, which then contributes to them feeling anxious or frightened. Moreover, the physical distance from their friends and other loved ones such as grandparents may also cause them to feel disconnected.
As parents, teachers, and caregivers work hard to protect the children in their lives and attend to their physical health, we need to ensure we are also giving the same attention to support children’s mental health. During this hectic time of disruption, are children able to express their feelings about COVID19 particularly regarding their worries and concerns? In between scrambling to survive the pandemic safely, how many of us have taken the time to have an open conversation with the children in our lives to ask them what they miss the most about life before COVID19? What do they look forward to most after the pandemic is over?
Such an open conversation could be enlightening as parents might be surprised to learn their child’s concern is different than what they had expected. On the other hand, it might be useful for the child (depending on their age) to hear what concerns their parents most about the health pandemic. Parents might even use this opportunity to teach their children coping techniques to manage their anxieties. This could help the child build resilience for challenges beyond the COVID19 era.
It is in this spirit that my friend, Dr. Krishna Williams, and I have collaborated to create an online workbook for children to express their feelings about the Coronavirus. We hope that this free online workbook will be a starter for a healthy discussion that allows you to nurture your child’s mental health. At the end of it, please remind them, and yourself, that these feelings are valid and normal.
Our best wishes to you and your family to stay safe and healthy.