Our young ones are being greeted at school with people in masks, squirting 'hanitizer' on their hands, they're hearing about a dangerous illness that has something to do with swine--aren't those pigs? Their parents are making them wash their hands ALL the time. Clearly, something is up.
A friend shared a story from her childhood, her mother told her that the croaking out in the pond was coming from frogs.....and my friend was convinced that it was one really huge frog out there in the pond making all that noise. She was terrified! What we adults see as facts and precautions can be scary for our young ones.
How can we help our young ones feel safe? How do we walk the line, not inciting fear but acknowledging feelings?
Here's a start:
1) Teach your child how to wash their hands to get the most germs off: lots of soap, warm water, and rubbing the suds on your hands for as long as it takes to sing the ABCs. (My grandmother used to say make the suds so thick it looks like white kitten paws.)
2) Do you have a family emergency plan? Use this as a good excuse to make that plan. Taking action empowers us and a confident parent helps a child feel safe.
3) Keep family routines as constant as possible. Don't have family routines and rituals? Create some!
4) Be informed! Check out the CDC website and your local Health Department website.
5) Listen. Play with your kids whether that means play-doh or X-Box, spend time together and listen for clues to what's going on with their inner lives.
6) Laugh. Watch funny movies, play Mad Libs, buy silly string. Laughter relieves stress.
5) Talk. Get support from friends and family and your faith home if you are having big fears about a pandemic.
6) Make it fun. Watch this video, play dracula sneeze or sneeze-in-your-shirt!
7) For older kids, try this comic book about pandemic flu.
8) Buy cool tissue holders and send kids out the door with a couple of loose tissues tucked into pockets.
9) ....and you can make funky 'hanitizer' bottles, too. (thanks Little Birdie Secrets!)
10) And the most important thing? Hold your kids close, or as close as those teenagers will let you and let them know that we adults will do everything we can to keep them safe!
(Cross posted at Westside UU Congregation Religious Education)