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How to talk to your kids about disasters like CORONA

Don’t worry about getting the explanation right; disasters don’t make sense, especially to young children. However, you should focus on reassuring them that they and everyone they care about are safe and that everything will be alright.

Viruses, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, and other disasters can occur at any time, and they are hard to process. They can affect your whole family and change life as you know it. Everywhere there are images of human suffering and other information related to the disaster that has occurred. As a parent, you want to guard your child against similar circumstances and the feelings that come up. But how do you explain such events in a nurturing and protective way? Here are some of the ways you can talk to your kids about disasters

1.    Take care of yourself
First, you have to process the situation yourself. Take some time to talk to your partner or someone you trust and work out your feelings and reactions away from your kids. Children tend to think that the world is a safe place, and when disaster strikes, they look to you to comfort and reassure them. The worrying and tension can be overwhelming, especially when your safety is breached. However, before addressing the emotional load disasters place on children, you have to deal with it first. This way, you don’t transfer your anxieties or worries unknowingly to your children. By working through your feelings, you are calmer and less anxious about the situation, making you a better listener and comforter.

2.    Control the narrative
Disasters and deadly incidents often make headlines, and whether you are living in or outside the affected zone, news and information about it are everywhere. So you should be mindful of what your children are picking up from the internet and media. In such instances, everyone is glued to the TV, radio, or social media to get more information about what is going on. However, such unlimited exposure can have adverse effects on kids. Limiting their exposure to the media can help ease their worry and protect them. You can turn off the television or limit their screen time, especially for older kids, as they have access to social media sites. Instead, watch the news with your children and talk to them about what’s happening. This way, you are sure they have the correct information, and you can answer any questions they might have.

3.    Find out what they know
There is a tendency among parents to assume that they know what their kids are thinking or going through. Unfortunately, because kids are not always forthcoming with their feelings and concerns, it can be hard to tell what they are. Ask open-ended queries such as “How are you feeling?” “What’s on your mind?” or “What have you heard about...” These questions can open up a dialogue allowing you to find out what they know about the situation, their concerns, and fears. Even if you aren’t directly affected, your kids could be worried about family members or friends who are. So as you talk to them, offer as much information as they can process and remember that no matter what age they are, your kids need to know that they are safe.

Don’t worry about getting the explanation right; disasters don’t make sense, especially to young children. However, you should focus on reassuring them that they and everyone they care about are safe and that everything will be alright.

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