As we learn to deal with the ongoing implications of COVID-19, we must not forget that our children are watching us and trying to make sense of the world around them. As parents and caretakers, we need to help our children stay calm during the COVID-19 crisis.
It is obvious that our everyday lives have been changed. Schools have been canceled. Restaurants are closed. Sports events canceled. Church services moving online. And kids may not understand the reason for all of this. Children function best when they have a consistent schedule and structure. When these things get disrupted, children can struggle. So, what can we as parents/caregivers do during this time?
Good parenting requires understanding, patience, direction, wisdom, and perseverance. When Moses in Deuteronomy 6 tells the nation of Israel to “teach them diligently,” he is employing parents to be active in their child’s discipleship process. So, at the dinner table, we talk about God, on our socially distant walks we point our kids to God, as we put them to bed, we remind them of God’s goodness. Through the COVID-19 crisis, what better time is there to talk to your kids about the things of God. When you’re talking about the Word of God with your kids you’re teaching it to them. Our kids are looking to us, and in order for us to show them what trust in God looks like, we must first model it for them; in order for us to show God to our kids, we must know Him. We have to know Him in order to show Him! What can we do to reinitiate God’s pattern for the home? We need to choose to make our home His home. Joshua 24.15, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” and part of that service is impressing upon the hearts of our kids a love for God even in these trying times.
Keep their routines in place as much as possible. With the current pandemic, that can be a challenge since schools are closed indefinitely. This means you may need to bring in other routines that you establish with your child. You can also stay consistent with dinner time, family devotion time, playtime, bedtime, etc. All of these present unique discipleship opportunities in the home.
Also, understand that children often watch the actions of their parents and other people who have authority in their life. They can sense when the people in their life are stressed out and worried. They will pick up on these feelings. It is important to not only keep children safe physically, but we also make sure that we are monitoring their emotional well-being as well. Children’s reaction will vary from child to child. Some will be clingy, some will require extra attention, while others may experience difficulty with sleep and eating. Through it all, we have to come alongside our children and support them wherever they are.
We need to be sure that we validate their feelings, remain empathetic and patient and that we are calm and supportive through it all. Social/physical distancing is the key, yet social isolation for a child is hard, so be creative and try to keep them connected with other children with virtual playdates, writing letters, phone calls, etc.
With the daily updates from Dr. Bonnie Henry and Prime Minister Trudeau, the information may seem overwhelming at times and still, we do not want to hide the truth from our kids. We must be sure to give them age-appropriate information. Tell them the truth in age-appropriate ways and be ready to answer their questions and listen to their concerns. Kids do not need to be constantly exposed to the news playing in the background, what they need to know is that mommy and daddy are there to answer their questions and to help them through this time.
Reassure your children that you are there to help keep them safe. Tell them they can come to you anytime they are experiencing fear or anxiety. Keep them busy with scheduled activities throughout the day and do not make them sit in their rooms all day. Provide fun activities like art, music, playing in the backyard, Legos, etc. When kids are bored, they are more prone to spend time worrying about the pandemic. As a Children’s Ministry team, we are developing resources for you and your kids during this time.
Through it all, we must stay positive and remind our children that Jesus has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us! No matter what may come our way, we can lean into His grace and goodness. Our God remains on His throne and will see us through. We can go to Him when we feel anxious or scared since we know He is the God who is with us and hears us.
As we all learn to live with the new realities of physical/social distancing, we must continue to do our part in limiting the spread of this virus. Yet as parents/caregivers who have a responsibility for the little ones in our homes, we must make sure we are helping our kids stay safe, calm and focused on Christ during this crisis.