- “Why is the grocery store out of toilet paper?”
- “Why don’t we have church on Sunday?”
- “Someone told me it’s only old people that will get really sick. Are YOU old??
If your children are like mine, they are becoming more and more aware of the conversations around them centered on COVID-19. As our local and national government, schools, and organizations continue to revise their recommendations and policies, their daily routines are undoubtedly going to be affected. In our homes, this can cause a mix of excitement, confusion, disappointment, and fear.
As parents and guardians, we’re presented with the important task of helping our kids process what’s happening: reminding them that we do not need to live in fear and continually pointing them to Christ. Below are some tips from EGC kids on how to talk with your children about the coronavirus:
1. Give them age appropriate, factual information about COVID-19.
In the same way that opening a closet and turning on a light can alleviate fears of imagined monsters at night, having honest, calm, faith-filled conversations with our children helps to demystify what is happening; making it seem less scary. For younger children, keep it as simple as possible: “Some people have been getting sick, so they’re trying to make sure no one shares their sickness with other people.” Using something that is familiar to them can help guide the conversation: “Do you remember that time you had (a fever, a cough, the flu)? It’s a lot like that.” Be sure to ask your children what they’ve heard from others or if they have any questions – helping them separate fact from fiction will help bring clarity and peace instead of fear.
2. Encourage them to be part of the solution.
One thing that health experts ALL agree on is that good hygiene practices are important in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Let your children know that part of the way they can help others (and themselves!) stay healthy is to wash their hands with plenty of soap and water and cover their mouths with their elbows when they sneeze and cough. It’s not really any different from what we should do year-round, but in order to do our part to help keep people safe right now, we can all (our kids included!) step up our game and do our best to stop any germs in their tracks!
Similarly, we can help them view cancelled events or changes in plans as part of the way they are putting the needs of others first. Instead of focusing on the disappointment, help them to see how doing so can help protect those in our communities who would be most affected by sickness and enables our doctors and nurses to give the best care possible to those who are sick.
3. Choose Faith instead of Fear
My [Bethany’s] youngest, who is three, came into our room early this morning, climbed up in our bed and said: “Mommy, I’m here to pray for you that you won’t be scared.” Then he laid his little hand on my shoulder and began praying over me – that I wouldn’t have bad dreams and that I would know that Jesus was always with me. As we continually bring things to God in prayer in our homes, our children learn to do so as well. Not only that, but we are fully convinced that even our littlest ones can hear from God: speaking and believing His truth into whatever situations we (or they!) are facing.
Our kids are, undoubtedly, going to pick up on how we are responding to what’s happening around us. We have the unique opportunity to choose to be carriers of peace in our homes instead of succumbing to the fear and anxiety around us: continually pointing our children’s hearts (and our own) to Jesus. As we do our best to make well-informed, wise choices in the coming weeks, it’s important to do so not in fear, but in faith. Encouraging our children to pray for those who are sick – because our God is a miracle-working God. Helping our children choose faith over fear because He is a God who’s promises never fail. Yes, the coronavirus may seem scary. But we have a God who is ever present and always with us. Whose love for us is unrivaled. And who does not want us to live in fear.
4. Focus on Loving our Neighbors.
In a season in which people’s responses range from fear and hoarding supplies to unconcern or even mockery – let’s choose, instead, to model for our children what it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us. Whether than means checking in on elderly neighbors, sharing supplies, assisting families who need childcare, or taking time as a family to pray for healthcare workers or government leaders: ask God to show you how your family can share the love of Jesus with those around you!
Believing that God has and will equip you, as parents and guardians, to navigate this—and every—situation with His wisdom and grace.
– The EGC Kids Team