The coronavirus (now officially named COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and uncertainty around this can bring about fear and worry in our Northbridge International School Cambodia community. It is important to remember our children are looking to us for reassurance and cues on how to react and respond. But we also need to take care of ourselves so we can be ready for those who need our best.
Five strategies to build resilience, and have reassuring conversations with kids during this challenging time are:
1. Stay Positive
Remember to keep calm. If we show high levels of anxiety or excessive fear, children in our care will pick up on this and also feel nervous and afraid. Changes to the environment and routines can create unease. There will be changes to the routine with remote learning, but think of creative ways to reshape that routine to encourage connection as a family. Having calm, panic-free discussions can ease emotions around these changes. Check-in on how your child is feeling and acknowledge and address their worries rather than ignore them.
2. Stick to the facts
It is important to have thoughtful conversations regarding the coronavirus to distil anxiety, worry or fear. Look at the facts. Consider your child’s age, processing, and emotions to determine how to frame these conversations to ensure your child understands. Let them know that new information is available every day, but this should be accessed from credible sources. If they have additional questions you can look to find the answers and continue to encourage relevant questions.
Check-in on what your child is thinking and address their worries. Discuss that not everything they hear or see is real. It can also be comforting to be reminded that doctors around the world are looking for ways to address the coronavirus and highlight positive news as well (for example you can Look at the real data, but also highlight latest discharge/recovery statistics: www.worldometers.info/coronavirus)
3. Consider Media Consumption
When looking online, consider the source and fact-check to prevent fake news, and think before you share. Be mindful of how much media you are checking and minimize how often you are reading stories. Try to keep a healthy balance (both online and offline) in your daily routines and lifestyle. If you or your children are on social media, be careful who you follow at this time. There are some very positive influencers that can be good sources of encouragement and hope.
4. Eliminate stigma
It is important to be aware of how the coronavirus is explained to your children to avoid any person/group being blamed. Also to communicate that if someone has a fever or cough does not mean this person has the coronavirus.
5. Boost Your Coping Strategies
When anyone faces change or uncertainty this can create levels of worry or anxiety. When this occurs, it is important to use positive coping strategies to manage those emotions. As every person is different, so too are our coping strategies. Regardless, it is important to practice positive strategies to calm down or modify our thinking to improve our outlook and overall well-being.
Coping strategies can include: positive self-talk, singing, dancing, reading, drawing, music, movies at home, creating a gratitude list, coloring, breathing exercises, exercise, cooking/baking, talking to a friend or family member, or doing other activities that are fun or give you joy. If you notice your child is still worried or anxious, be assured that this is a normal reaction, and continue healthy conversations and provide appropriate care for your child.
If you find that additional support is needed, please reach out to your child's advisor or one of our counselors who can help or if need be refer you to outside counseling.
Please remember that social distancing does not have to mean social disconnection. There are many ways to use the tools available to us, and to make the most of the time made available to make significant connections with others.