Everyone has been on high alert since the coronavirus landed on our local shores. Parents in particular are concerned about how the coronavirus affects our children when we send them off to school. Aside from understanding what is the coronavirus, what symptoms to look out for and what to do when a member falls ill, the coronavirus outbreak presents a good opportunity for parents to demonstrate how to be resilient in this time of uncertainty and high alertness.
Like us, our children would have received information and updates from their school, their friends and even through social media. Here are a few ways parents can help reinforce teachable moments and impart life skills to our children:
1. Keep Calm and Stay Positive.
Children excel at picking up non-verbal cues from their parents. So, if you experience dread and alarm during this health crisis, your children might also feel anxious. Even if you are freaking out on the inside, make an effort to stay calm and composed for your children.
By demonstrating calmness, our children will feel secure and they will also learn from you how to stay calm in times of crisis. Help them to be resilient by teaching them to think positive and stay in a good mental space. Say prayers, meditate with your kids or chant calming phrases to help instil tranquillity within.
Here is a Hawaiian chanting technique called Ho’oponopono that you can say silently or out loud to incur positive energy. You can repeat these phrases in any sequences:
I Love You.
I am Sorry.
Please Forgive Me.
2. Talk About Their Concerns Regarding Coronavirus.
Have open discussions about the impact of coronavirus and share your concerns about their health safety. Give them an opportunity to ask questions and voice their worries during this health crisis. Offer them answers and help to allay any fears or anxieties they may have.
Discuss with your older children (tweens or teens) the ongoing updates like the new discovery of coronavirus clusters or the recent panic-buying sprees at the supermarkets. Ask them what they think or feel about the situation or what are they facing in school or during their transit between home and school or enrichment classes.
Their answers might offer you insights to their thoughts and feelings. You can then offer them some guidance or counsel to address their apprehensions.
3. Implement a Home Health Strategy
Many of our children continue to take public transport to and from school or enrichment classes. Arm them with a mask to use in case they do not feel well in school. Give them sanitizer and remind them to wash hands or use sanitizer to keep their hands clean. When they get home, head for the showers. Also, boost up their immune system with vitamin C, sufficient rest and plenty of fluids.
Teach them to listen to their body and to announce if they are not feeling well. Some kids worry that their parents do not allow them to stay home from school when they are sick. This is a good time to assure them that it is prudent to exercise trust and honesty. Check in with them daily when they return home on their health status.
Also discuss what happens should a member of the family fall ill. Do you have a contingency plan, especially for families where both parents work and there is no one to look after their sick child?
4. Reinforce Values – Practice Kindness and Graciousness.
While we teach them to protect their health and being prepared for any eventuality, it is equally important to impart in our children the values of being kind and gracious in this time of heightened alertness.
Share stories of medical staff who are volunteering at the front-lines to help the sick recover or the flight crew who are flying to Wuhan to bring home stranded Singaporeans. Highlight positive messages and minimize rumor-sharing. Ask them what they will do if their friends come to school with masks? Offer them ways to be compassionate and thoughtful without risking their health. For example, they can allow students who are unwell to get health checks first. Or queue in orderly fashion to get their temperatures taken in school.
Some of our children may find the viral videos or images circulating online funny. While there is nothing wrong in having a sense of humor (in fact, it is good for their health to share a laugh), we can caution them about the impact of sharing negative messaging and teach them to discern what is real news and what can be fake news.
5. Be Proactive About Your Health
We cannot stress enough the importance to practice good personal hygiene. This is an excellent time to remind our children and reinforce these messages by modelling the following practices for them.
- Cover your mouth or nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Instill a good habit of washing hands before and after we eat, go to washrooms etc.
- Keep our hands clean – use sanitizer
- Do not touch our eyes, nose and face unnecessarily.
Fortunately, we live on a tropical island. Go outdoors and get some sun and fresh air in the many parks we have. Remain vigilant and avoid crowded places or gatherings of crowds like movies, concerts, shopping malls etc.
Start a family group chat if you haven’t already done so and keep everyone updated of new clusters or areas to avoid. You can also stay updated with the latest information by:
- Signing up for the Gov.sg WhatsApp channel at go.gov.sg/whatsapp
- Visiting moh.gov.sg or gov.sg
- Precautionary measures in schools: https://www.moe.gov.sg/faqs-wuhan-coronavirus-infection
When life gives you lemons, you make your own kind of lemonade. Let’s take this opportunity and spin it into a positive experience for ourselves.