Kitchen Table Talks: Covid Conversations
We're kicking off our "Kitchen Table Talks" series with "Covid Conversations", where we confer with local experts on how families can navigate the pandemic. These are meant to help families discuss the virus and its effects with transparency, consistency and candor.
What conversations do you need support with? Let us know: [email protected]ldren.org
In this episode, Dr. Tony Vetrano from Century Airport Pediatrics breaks down how to talk to your kids about coronavirus, advising that the conversation should bear mind to the age of the child and their ability to grasp key concepts. He recommends the following:
- Less than age 3: "They have no ability to understand what's happening, and the masks may be frightening to them," Dr. Vetrano says. "Keeping things as consistent as possible will ensure a sense of safety within them, where they can continue to grow and develop."
- Ages 3 - 4 1/2: "A very vivid imagination happens here, and they have a hard time distinguishing what's real and imaginary. It's okay to say 'we need to stay home since so many people are sick right now' and leave it at that."
- Ages 4 1/2 - 6: "This is where they understand death, so you can be honest and grieve with them," says Dr. Vetrano. "They are preoccupied with permanance and routine, so creating calendars or printed schedules for them each day can prove helpful."
- Ages 6 - 10: "With this group, absolutely do not state something that isn't completely true, because they'll lose trust in you immediately," Dr. Vetrano advises. "They are trying to learn without directly asking questions, so recognize that insecurity within them and respond with clear, simple, accurate statements."
- Ages 10 - 15: "This is where they get more fearless, more peer-oriented and opinionated," Dr. Vetrano explains. "Listen to their thoughts, acknowledge them, ensure they feel heard. Then, you can respond with authority and guidance."
- Ages 15 - 18: "They've got a good sense of rational thought here. They will need parental support in setting clear boundaries and identifying their decisions, but overall, some very powerful conversation can happen here between the child and parent."
- Touching: the main way the virus is spread. Avoid touching common surfaces, and be sure to wash hands before and after.
- Masks: beneficial, but does not serve its intended purpose if touched or adjusted frequently. Masks are best worn in concentrated areas like grocery stores, but are not as necessary in outdoor spaces.
- Physical distancing: maintaining the six feet apart stance
- News consumption: sticking with sources like the CDC website, to keep information consistent and from a medically-based standpoint.
In this episode, Dr. Brigid Vilardo Lyons offers the following tips for helping children when a loved one is diagnosed or succumbs to Covid-19. This article from the Incredible Years blog also suggests different ways kids can continue bonding with grandparents and other loved ones while maintaining social distance. Childmind also offers a variety of techniques for handling grief and loss with children.
Dr. Vilardo Lyons suggests ways to transition your children from the classroom to learning from home. These suggestions on socially distant play dates can also help keep your kids connected to their friends during quarantine.
Right now, what appears on the surface as "acting out" or rebellion is actually your child trying to process what's happening in their world. Dr. Vilardo Lyons helps distinguish between what to expect and when to intervene. This article from Today offers additional insights.
Nobody can be "on" all the time, and you can't pour from an empty cup. In this clip, Adrienne discusses how to have boundary conversations with children of varying ages, so they have a better understanding of what's happening and you can enjoy a few moments to yourself- without guilt.
Covid Conversations with Parent Network: Communicating with Your Child's Teacher