Thoughts from Ms. Yumi
As a parent and an educator, I have been trying to figure out how to help my Kindergartener and 3rd grader navigate this time. As an adult, I have the ability to research information and make decisions for myself; my kids can only piece together information they have overheard in conversations and try to make sense out of it. As an adult, my world has been disrupted; my kids’ world has been turned upside down without much warning.
During bedtime the other night, I held a Coronavirus Q&A session with my kids. I let both of them ask me as much as they wanted as well as tell me as much as they understood. This way, I can understand what they knew. We had a really open conversation and I let them know that I will always make time for them to process what is happening.
I wanted to share some things that we talked about that might be helpful for other parents to address:
Our kids will miss their friends…greatly.
It’s only a matter of time. Socializing and playing with their friends is a huge stress outlet for young children. They are freely able to be who they are and feel accepted by others. Find ways for your kids to connect with their friends. It allows them to be able to hold onto some of the consistency in their lives.
Kids are going to start feeling stressed, but they won’t know it.
For my kids, I explained that our hearts may feel anger, frustration, sadness, and other “down” feelings without knowing the cause. These feelings may make us feel impatient and bothered by each other. We need to practice saying things like “I need space,” “I’m feeling frustrated,” or “something is making me angry.”
My Kindergarten son was in the middle of helping me unload the dishwasher when he stopped and said, “Mommy, my heart is feeling so frustrated” and burst into tears. Then he figured out that he missed his friends. We talked about it and addressed his feelings.
Validate their feelings at that time, in that moment.
During this time, no chore I’m working on is more important than showing my kids that their feelings really matter. Their emotions are real. They are processing. They need us to help them.
Adults have the same feelings that they do.
I let them know that mommy and daddy will have times where we will miss our friends, miss running errands, and miss going into our offices. It’s a very comforting feeling for children to know that they’re not alone in these feelings.
Ask them to keep you in check.
I let my kids know that there may be times where I am not feeling patient or kind and that I will need their help when my heart is feeling frustrated. This is the time for us to come together as a family team.
I want to provide my kids a safe home where they can openly share their feelings and thoughts with any fear. No judgement, no shame, and especially no quick-fix answers. Openness, honesty, and validation will be the key to successfully helping our kids navigate this confusing time. I believe that if we can help our young children now, we will create a strong foundation for our relationship to build upon. And as they get older, they will know that their family will be there to support them through other life’s adventures.