Be Truthful in Answering Children’s Questions
General guidelines for answering children’s questions include: Find out what they think they know about the issue (e.g. through social media or their friends) before answering. Keep your answers simple and appropriate to your child’s developmental level. Get your information from reliable sources (e.g. UNICEF, the World Health Organization websites).
If you don’t know the answer baby journey, offer to try to find it out for them. If they say don’t bother, you can probably leave it. However, if the answer is important to you personally, you might say that’s an interesting question. I’m going to look up the answer because I’d be interested in knowing it. Don’t make promises you can’t keep (e.g. Things will be back to normal by your birthday).
Maintain Everyday Routines
We all do better when we have some structure around us (particularly in times of stress and uncertainty). As much as possible, stick to your regular family routines (e.g. mealtimes, bedtime routines). You will also be introducing new routines (e.g. more regular washing of hands; keeping more distance than usual between yourselves and others if outside the home; managing a situation where you are working from home while your child is also at home). Where it is possible, involve your children in the development of these. It is predictable that some of these new routines may result in a temporary increase in arguments between parents and children (e.g. the need for more instructions and monitoring around hand washing). It might take a little time for the family to adjust to the new routines, be as kind and patient with both yourself and your child as you can.
It is useful to work out a timetable or schedule for each day to help you and your child cope with being at home during this time. Keep the difference between weekdays and weekends. During weekdays when your child would have been at school, this timetable should include learning activities as recommended by your school. Keep in mind that home learning during this time will not be the same as a regular school day. Have realistic expectations (both for yourself and your child) around home learning.
- For toddlers and pre-schoolers you may want to adapt some of the daily routines they are used to from their day care (if applicable). Drawing up a timetable for the day could be an activity that you do with your children each morning (you will most likely also benefit from having a timetable). If you are working from home, you might think about scheduling breaks at the same time as your child. You might also need to set some new rules about interrupting politely and waiting for your attention.
- The timetable might not always go exactly as planned. That’s ok. Having a timetable is about providing some structure and guidance for the day. When things don’t go to plan, be patient with yourself and your child; and work together to think about how to make it work better the next day.
Have a Family Plan
Plans are very helpful in times of anxiety and uncertainty. Each family needs to develop their own plan. The plan should include regular hand washing; keeping a distance between yourselves and others; and physically staying away from vulnerable family members and friends. Children have an important part to play by following these rules. Where possible, include kindness to others in your plan (e.g. offer to pick up and leave groceries for an elderly neighbor or someone with special needs).