Building Resilience and Conversations with Children
We are aware that uncertainty around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) may bring about various levels of uncertainty and anxiety within our community. It is of course natural that the risks and the unknowns of the virus will create anxiety, particularly for children who don't have the capacity to process information and reason in the same way an adult would. It is important to remember that our children are looking towards us as their trusted adults, for reassurance and cues on how to respond to their emotions, thoughts and comments.
Teachers will continue to speak with students about the Coronavirus during Village Times and address any concerns the children might have. We have also recorded an audiovisual book; The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside (see below), which you can read and watch together with your children to aid discussions at home. We hope that this is helpful to you!
We also thought it would be relevant to share the following strategies to help build resilience and have reassuring conversations with your children. As always, we welcome your feedback and if you have further strategies to help and support one another please share away!
Engage in conversation
Remember to keep calm and enjoy being in the 'now’/present moment. If you show anxiety or fear, your child is likely to pick up on this and also feel nervous and afraid. Check in on how your child is feeling and acknowledge and address their worries. Having calm, panic free discussions can ease emotions around changes to the environment and routines. As far as possible, carrying on with your day as normal is likely to be the best approach.
As you will be aware, many news outlets, other sources of online information and social media overemphasise the problem and its accompanying risks. As with all media coverage, consider the source and fact-check to prevent fake news. Continue to be mindful of what your children are exposed to and what you share with them. Correct any misinformation and provide reasonable reassurance. It’s often helpful to remind children that scientists and public health officials are working overtime to understand the virus and look at ways to limit its impact - encourage trust in their work.
Boost your Coping Strategies
It’s normal for change and uncertainty to cause some level of worry or anxiety. When this occurs, it is important to use positive coping strategies to manage those emotions. Coping strategies can include positive self-talk, breathing, creating a gratitude list, yoga, talking to friends or trusted adults, or doing other activities that are fun, joyful and make us feel good (cooking/baking, singing, dancing, reading, drawing, colouring and exercise etc.).
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 it does not mean this person has the Coronavirus. Teach children to stand up for those who are unfairly treated/targeted, just as you would in many other situations.
As well as taking sensible precautions and hygiene measures, remember all those usual healthy living basics to boost our immune systems... plenty of sleep, fresh air, water, exercise and a healthy diet.
We hope you enjoy the audiobook; we are working on a few others and will send them out to the community as we complete more.
As always, please feel free to get in touch with either Mr Steve or Ms Becca if you have any questions or concerns.
Steve Ayling and Becca Bower
Junior School Counsellors, International School Basel