“School’s out forever!”
Watching classic rock videos on YouTube while on quarantine took me to Alice Cooper’s song.
And got me guiltily thinking, “How are my kids coping with school closures and COVID-19?” I’d maybe mistakenly presumed they’d be like me. I had no problems with school closing. Heck, I looked forward to those days when classes ended!
But kids nowadays actually seem to like going to school. They may be enjoying the first few days of no classes but when the novelty of not having to wake up early wears off, they’ll be at a loss for things to do. Because school closures due to COVID-19 are different from schools closing for the summer break.
The former are unplanned and unexpected. And to make matters worse, kids can’t do the usual activities that put them out of the house playing with other kids or going to parks and malls. They’ll also be feeling scared when they hear about lockdowns and stay home orders, and read the online rumors and exaggerated stories about the coronavirus.
If you see your child’s usual disposition changing, like from cheerful to moody, don’t take it lightly. You can even be proactive and take the lead before problems arise. That’s what moms and dads are for anyway. Here’s what you can do.
Tips to help your kids deal with school closures:
Talk to them honestly about schools closing and Covid-19.
With the infinite number of information available on social media and their endless sharing on messaging platforms, children can’t distinguish fact from fiction. Alarmist tales can cause deep anxiety and fear in kids.
Case in point: My kid keeps asking me when I’ll die and who’s going to cook their food, clean the house, etc. because they’ve read that Covid-19 is fatal for the elderly. (True but not quite, the fatal part, not the elderly, is what I mean.)
So sit them down and explain that schools are being closed to prevent the spread of the disease, and not necessarily because someone from school is infected. Then follow up with how hygiene practices and staying home are the best ways to keep everyone safe.
Acknowledge their feelings.
Anxiety and fear are common in children. It becomes even more so when an enemy is around. The Covid-19 pandemic has magnified their fear of loved ones, and even themselves, dying. Younger kids may not yet grasp the economic implications of the pandemic but older ones can become anxious over their parents’ possible loss of jobs and its effects.
Let your children express their feelings openly. Avoid being judgmental and don’t downplay their fears and worries. But don’t give false assurances either. The best thing you can do is to listen and reassure your child that, no matter what, you’ll be there for them.
Monitor what they’re viewing on TV and the internet.
While playing video games is okay, viewing fear-mongering news and shared misinformation on social media can add to the worry that’s already present with Covid-19, and cause more panic and dread in your kids. Educate them on trustworthy sources for news and information.
Establish a routine in the house.
Following a routine will develop in kids a feeling of security and consistency, which helps in alleviating the stress of the uncertainty of the Covid-19 timeline. Set specific hours for meals, playtime, activities, and rest or sleep.
These are challenging times, and there’s no end in sight for now. The consistency of a set schedule makes your home a safe haven for your family
Be the cool and calm person in the family.
Children pick up instantly on nonverbal language and imitate them. If they see your anxiety and stress, they’ll become it, too. On the other hand, avoid being too cheerful and light-hearted as it gives the false impression that all’s right with the world. Remain appropriately pleasant and calm-headed to maintain a peaceful ambiance at home.
School closures are still fluid. The government and organizations are monitoring the situation as it unfolds. Make this time with your kids at home a time worth looking back at with fond memories of how you got through a global crisis.