David Kalmanovitch Shares Tips for Talking to Your Children About the Pandemic
With the ongoing global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, parents are left wondering how they should talk to their children about the impacts of the virus, while being both honest and reassuring. Kids as young as two are very perceptive to their environment and the people around them. In fact, they often are aware of much more than their parents realize, says child psychologist David Kalmanovitch.
Based in London, England, Kalmanovitch has been practicing as a child psychologist for more than 15 years, with his personal hope and mission to support children’s’ psychological development and identify the root causes that negatively impact their mental well being. He outlines the advice he has for parents regarding how they can effectively talk to their children about this global crisis to reassure them and calm any worries they may have.
Find out what they already know
David Kalmanovitch advises parents to begin by engaging their children in an open conversation about the current pandemic and not to volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming for them. For younger children, ask questions geared towards their language level. You might say, “The world has been very different lately because of that sickness that’s been going around, did you want to talk about it?” Whereas, for older kids and teens, you could ask, “What are you hearing about the coronavirus? did you want to talk about it?”
By inviting your kids to open up in this way and encouraging them to take the lead on the conversation, you will be able to gather what they already know and what questions or concerns they may have. As well, if they’ve been misinformed from unreliable sources, you can reframe their knowledge with fact-based information that is likely more reassuring than whatever they’re hearing from their friends or on the news.
Welcome their questions
As you open up the conversation, your children will likely have many questions for you. Some of these you’ll have an honest answer to, while other questions might leave you stumped with uncertainty. But rather than avoiding questions you can’t answer, David Kalmanovitch encourages parents to simply say, “I don’t know.” You could even take this as a collaborative learning opportunity for yourself and your children, welcoming them to join you at the computer to uncover some factual insight to the question. Children and adolescents alike will respect their parents much more if they are honest and willing to admit that they don’t have all the answers, but are interested in supporting their child’s curiosity by uncovering the knowledge elsewhere.
Offer Comfort and Guidance, Says David Kalmanovitch
The world has drastically changed in the past few months and it continues to impact peoples’ livelihoods in a myriad of ways. Upon learning about the pandemic and how it’s affected society, children and adolescents may experience anxiety about how Covid-19 could negatively affect their loved ones. They may worry that their family members will become ill (or worse), particularly if their parents are continuing to go into work or if their grandparents live in a retirement or long term care home.
David Kalmanovitch advises parents and caregivers to comfort their children by listening to them and giving them space to share their fears and then responding in a calm manner and offering guidance. This can be done by putting news stories into context, explaining that death form the virus is still rare, despite what they may hear. As well, parents can assuage their children’s’ fears by having them call or video-chat with their grandparents and other loved ones.
To learn more about David Kalmanovitch you can read his interview here.