Global crisis is a time to keep calm
Parents need to be a rock for their children in the face of global coronavirus pandemic
Voices rise in harmony, resonating like a choir in a cathedral through deserted streets.
The video of quarantined Italians in Sienna singing together from their balcony windows went viral, sparking similar performances in Rome and elsewhere across Italy, as well as in other countries.
This is so much more than just a heartwarming moment in a dark time.
It’s a lesson in resiliency and how to help our children learn to cope with crisis.
“Most young kids will remember how their family home felt during the coronavirus panic more than anything specific about the virus,” New Yorkbased clinical psychologist
Dr. Rebecca Kennedy says in a recent article.
Much has been written about how to explain coronavirus to kids.
There’s even advice about how to help children cope with the anxiety. Just like adults, their lives have been utterly disrupted. That stress is compounded by the worry they can sense in adults around them.
How we parents behave is not just about targeted conversations or lessons.
Our children are watching everything we do — in close quarters and in a time of great uncertainty.
How we interact with others, how we react to news and our general behaviour as we manage our own anxiety, is on display. So here’s a gentle reminder for parents (me included) as we all try to hold it together.
Please, don’t make every household conversation about coronavirus. Your (hopefully restrained) news consumption can increase anxiety. How you respond to these reports is also important.
Try not to mutter frustrations or gasp at every breaking story. Stifle your anger at certain politicians onscreen. Little ones start to question their own safety very quickly when they witness stress.
Have an age-appropriate discussion about the positive steps world leaders are taking, and the nature of expertise and advice.
Teach your kids about the importance of community. If you are able, join the “caremongering” trend as a family. The online volunteer group divvies up small chores to help vulnerable people, and will pair you with someone who needs its services. By contrast, think about what your kids will internalize when they see you fighting over the last package of toilet paper in the store.
The following tips can help impart resiliency, too.
If you’re working from home, take breaks and do simple mindfulness exercises with your little ones.
Make these practices a habit, and they will become part of your child’s lifelong tool kit for dealing with future exams and job stresses. All the tips will tell you to maintain a routine in your house.
Make time for fun. Yes, we’re scheduling fun now for the time being.
Watch a comedy or play Youtube karaoke. Give every child the chance to pick an activity for fun time. You can still give them happy family memories, even in a crisis.
Twenty years from now, Italians from Sienna will remember that, in a time of fear, their parents stuck their heads out of windows and sang with the neighbours.
What will you give your children to remember?
Craig Kielburger is co-founder of the WE Movement, which includes WE Charity, ME to WE Social Enterprise and WE Day.
Italians have been taking to their balconies to share songs, setting a lovely, calming tone for both children and adults amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.