My 2 daughters are 8 and 6 years old, and we are in the process of a relocation from Sydney to Singapore.
8 weeks ago, we stopped going to school in an attempt to #stayhome and #stopthespread of COVID-19. There was still 2 weeks left of school at Eastwood Public, and my girls were definitely disappointed that they could not complete the term with their new classmates and teachers since they absolutely loved going to school.
The day after we decided to stay home, NSW announced that home based learning would begin. This was fortunate for my girls as this meant they could still have online contact with their favourite teachers. That same week, online jazz, ballet, hip hop, piano and even maths tutoring started, keeping my girls super busy throughout the day and after home-schooling.
Yesterday the school term officially ended and the Easter holidays in Australia have begun. The girls are coping well with the transition as we finish off the last of all their extra curricular activities as well.
However, I recognize that it is important to keep them vocalizing their feelings during this time of transition.
Today, after watching a reading on Youtube of a new book published by UNICEF to help children understand the impact of COVID-19 and how to cope with their emotions of being away from their friends, my older daughter commented "how am I going to make any new friends in Singapore if I am not even going to be able to go to school?" At that moment, I realized how absolutely the kids are also feeling anxious about the move and their new life in Singapore amidst this global pandemic. The only way I can support them is to continuously speak to them about what we see, read and talk about during this sensitive time.
Here are some ways I have engaged my young ones during this time to talk about their feelings and hear their perspective.
1. Watch the news together and ask them if they understood what the newscaster was reporting on. When they share their perspective, they might have interpreted some areas of the news report wrongly or inaccurately and this is our chance to help them understand the facts better.
2. Only share factual information, videos etc from reputable sources and help the kids also recognize what is potential fake news. Talk about the impact of how some of these fake news will affect real businesses and real people, and how it might cause unnecessary panic and instill fear in others. Let the kids ask questions about why people will post fake news and explain that whilst we can only guess at the perpetrators' intentions, the best way to deal with the problem is not to spread the fake news and report the fake news so that others will not be duped.
3. Encourage the kids to think about their life before self isolation and life now in the new norm, and highlight all the positive improvements and what makes them happy about staying home. This puts the positive perspective at the forefront and encourages them to use this opportunity to gain more and feel better vs whinge about what they had lost.
4. Kids learn by example so as parents, if we are anxious and upset, it will likely rub off on the kids. So don't forget that self care for parents is equally as important during this tough time. Experiment with mood boards with the kids together. This is not only a good time for kids to vocalize their feelings but also a great opportunity for parents to talk about their feelings and help your kids understand you better as well. You might be surprised how easily some of your concerns and fears might be dissipated when your kids share their opinions and what they think about your worries.