How to Discuss the New Normal With Your Kids
Here's how to make sure that what your kids hear about the new normal is accurate and reliable while providing comfort and reassurance.
The struggle to deal with the constantly changing rules of the new normal is real. Fluid situations are frustrating, and at times confusing even for the most resilient of adults. What more with children?
With fear, uncertainty and isolation repeatedly cycling with a temporary return to normalcy, kids are probably as stressed as their parents—they need some help with grasping the rules changing...AGAIN! They've probably seen and heard some pretty frightening news so it's important to check-in on them via reassuring family chats.
Here's a guide on how to navigate a conversation about it, to help a child feel safe, manage emotions and build resilience.
Be open and listen.
No matter how much we shield them from frightening headlines, children have probably heard something from peers or the social media networks they have access to. So find out what they know and encourage them to ask any questions they may have.
Answer their questions simply & honestly.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says, "It is OK to say people are getting sick, but remind them that following safety steps like hand washing , wearing cloth face coverings, and staying home more will help your family stay healthy."
Do familiarize yourself with facts from reliable institutions like the World Health Organization, Philippine Department of Health or the social media pages of your local government units. Keep answers basic but accurate. Use age appropriate language to get your point across.
It is also perfectly fine to tell them you don't know some of the answers. Take this as a learning opportunity for both you and your child plus a chance at revisiting a conversation with them.
Recognize your child's feelings.
Children will look to their parents for support and reassurance so listen when they share how they feel about the situation and give them comfort.
Calmly say, for example, “I can see that you are upset because you can't have playdates with your friends right now." Then follow up with guiding questions to help them work through issues like "What are the other ways you can play with your friends?"
The American Psychological Association says that providing the space to discuss a child's emotional experiences at this challenging time is important and may influence other aspects of their lives. And yes, even parents can use this moment to express their feelings and connect it with their child's. It's a great chance to model how you would like them to manage their feelings.
So when you feel frustrated that you can't visit your sister because of social distancing rules, you may connect that with your kid being upset that they can't go on playdates.
Create a one-on-one time ritual with extra hugs
Make catch up time a one-on-one engagement, especially if you're dealing with kids of different age groups. It could be a daily bedtime routine for younger kids or a once a week board game session with older kids. No need to talk about new normal news. Talk about the latest from their favorite streamers or games.
Find that pocket of time with each of your kids where you can talk and reassure them that they're doing fine. You may also take this opportunity to tell them the one thing you think they did well that day or week. Cap it with tons of hugs for extra family love mileage.
The Australian Red Cross says "It is important to give kids a sense of being in control and giving them meaningful ways to help others''. So if your child expresses worry about friends or family being far away or isolated, arrange for them to chat through digital channels.
If they wish to contribute to the neighborhood community pantry, encourage that while keeping safe and following the rules of the barangay. Assuage their anxiety by allowing them to show compassion.
UNICEF also adds that parents should also explain to kids that the new normal has nothing to do with the way someone looks, where they are from, or what language they speak.
Model behavior you wish to see.
Children pick up on behavior they see from their elders. If you want to have calmness and security at home, parents should demonstrate that. Refrain from rumor-mongering and sensationalizing headlines. Show kindness when you can. Participate in fighting misinformation. Be the kind of adult you wish your kid to become.
Provide your child with information that scientists and doctors are working to figure out how to help people who get sick and how to prevent it. Share stories of people fighting on the frontlines and those who help and care for the sick. Give them some historical context by sharing stories of how the world has previously handled times like these.
We will overcome. It’ll just take some time!
About The Writer
Minnette is an experienced writer in entertainment, celebrity publicity, and social media.
As a freelance writer, her work has been published in Smart Parenting, FHM, Cosmopolitan Philippines, and Preview Magazine; her extensive coverage often centers around showbiz, parenting, and food; and their interesting convergence in between.
A graduate of Ateneo de Manila University and mother to one kid and two cats, Minnette can often be found in the kitchen playing with food.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.