How can we manage worrying information around our children?

Remembering days outdoors with my friend Sarah @abitofpink and her big girls

As we are all well aware by now, we are in ‘unprecedented’ times. Endless news reels, articles, conversations, not only between adults but children too, are hard to ignore. It is impossible to shield our children from the worries and events of the wider world, and important to share some truths with them about what is happening. We are, as Maria Montessori put it, “Citizens of the World” and our children will be the ones to inherit it.

Being in lockdown, (hello to everyone at home!) can make for a really good environment to nurture discussion, as we have time to drip feed explanations, observe reactions and unpick tricky questions. There are some simple ways we can help stem and support the flow of information, manage anxieties and make sense of the world around us all.

Simplify language. This is a must when terms such as pandemic, crisis and lockdown are being used liberally at the moment. A pandemic can be described as ‘something which affects a lot of people all over the world’. Crisis as ‘a time in which a lot of things change all at once, such as how children study (online) or how people work (from home)’. Lockdown can be described as ‘a decision made during a serious time to help everyone stay safe by staying indoors with their family’.
Manage our reactions. During this time containing our own anxieties in a way which will show children a reasonable range of emotion can be hard. It is absolutely OK to express worry, to cry, for this is real and true. By allowing for our whole selves we teach little ones that we also allow for their whole range of emotions, however we can be aware of the burden of ‘fixing’ our worry, explaining when we feel better after a tearful morning, and how we can find solutions to things which worry us. Telling them “everything will be ok” and “we are here to help each other” can be such powerful reassurances.
Conversations with other people. This is something that can be managed with a little awareness and protection. We cannot control what other people say, or how they react, but we can control what comes into our homes and what we speak about around little ears. Making important phone calls away from them or whilst they are asleep helps, spelling out worrying words (for pre-readers), and warning people you do speak to about what your child(ren) are and are not aware of. There are many online resources about how to talk to children about Coronavirus – have a look here, here, here and here.
Focus on amazing people. From those in our communities to further afield – neighbours, nurses, doctors, those who have recovered from the virus. These can all be inspirational mental points to focus on and places for gratitude.
Observe your child’s reactions. You are the best expert at knowing your children’s sensitivities as some children understand abstract ideas easily, whereas others take a little longer. Children process information differently so observe and note down which terms or subjects are particular triggers. Take time to explain, or even shelve the idea for another time if you can, for when your child is ready to take them on. This will help their overall understanding, and allow them to have fun with a freedom of mind during this unsettling time.

It has already proven to be a season of great community support and we would love to hear your suggestions and experiences of how you manage worries with your children. Do you have special terms or favourite go-to websites at the moment?

Love and light
Zainab x

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