Parenting in the Time of Corona
Considering the current circumstances, parents all around the world need additional support for protecting the health of their children, to entertain them at home and to maintain their active studying while kindergartens and schools are closed. For that reason, the team of the Novak Djokovic Foundation continues to work hard (from home) on providing parents and caretakers with useful information and educational content.
Smiljana Grujic, coordinator of our parenting program “Support, not Perfection”, who is a psychologist and a psychotherapist by profession, will today share recommendations on how to explain this new situation to your child and reduce their anxiety. Our wish is to encourage a discussion that will benefit all parents, so in case you have any other questions or dilemmas during this period, feel free to share with us in the comment section below and Smiljana will answer! Additionally, in case you wish to have a private consultation, Smiljana is inviting all parents and caretakers, to contact her on her Instagram and Facebook profile.
Our team is always there to offer your family support, encouragement, and understanding. Don’t forget that we are all in this together!
These days you have probably been confused, scared, and looking for security and certainty. You worry about your children, your parents, partners, the grandma next door. You are flooded with information from various sources, and it seems to you like you’re getting lost in the chaos. On top of all, the children are asking numerous questions and seeking additional attention. However, to you it seems that many of the things they want now are impossible and that they do not understand anything, which leads to you slowly losing your patience.
In crisis situations, and you will agree that the coronavirus outbreak is one of them, the most important thing is to not lose control over your own behavior.
That is why you need to first give “first aid” to yourself and clean up your mental space.
Leave aside your thoughts, estimates, and feelings. Only that way can the child also understand the situation we are all in now.
Nothing lasts forever, and neither will this!
How to talk to your child about the Coronavirus disease?
Start from what the child knows, what it feels, and what it sees when it looks at everything around them. If you establish that the child is worried, do not try to lessen their anxiety by telling them it’s not a big deal. Tell them they look concerned over it, and that it’s alright to be concerned.
Encourage your child to express their feelings.
For example, you can tell them:
“You look concerned. What do you think is the cause of that?”
When the child relaxes, help them express themselves.
When they say what they want, paraphrase what you heard:
“I think that what you are feeling is… and that you should…”
After you repeat what you understood from what you heard, ask your child:
“Did I understand you properly? Would you like to add something?”
If your child is young or has difficulties expressing their feelings, you will probably need to encourage them with additional phrases, such as: “It seems that you are hurt and that you need…”
Nothing has better effects than understanding
It is never too early, nor too late to actively listen and help your child understand its own feelings. Do not offer solutions, because that most often prevents the child from completely expressing its thoughts and feelings. What you should do is listen to what the child is telling you. Follow what you hear, and provide answers that will be, above all, honest and truthful and adapted to the child’s age.
Perhaps you will not have all answers to the coronavirus questions, the only thing that matters is for you to be honest and for what you have said to be in accordance with your body. Because, if it is not, children will sense that something is wrong.
That uncertainty lost in the unsaid is more dangerous than the truth you have said but adapted for the child’s age.
Show understanding for them being bored, that they would like to go to the amusement park, that they do now want for their already planned birthday party to be canceled, because of something that not even we can immediately understand.
That is all that is needed for the child to be in a better mood and have faith – that we will overcome whatever happens together.
Children can sense when you are hiding something. When you are bad at not telling something, even the air in the room you are in is different.
That is why, in this situation, the first thing you should do is not forget about yourself. Because if that happens, it will only result in making things twice as difficult.
Walt Disney said that the minds of our children are our finest natural resources. Perhaps the current situation is actually an opportunity to additionally strengthen the relationship of trust with your child and truly spend some time discovering the endless power of its mind.
With love and understanding,