How do we create good days when kindergartens and schools are closed? When families are together all the time, it creates both challenges and opportunities.
This new situation has brought challenges none of us have ever faced before. We have lost many of our regular routines. This is true for all children, and most of us adults as well. We are spending more time together, and more time indoors. This will be challenging. It might therefore be a good idea to prepare for what you can do when it all gets a bit too much, or when you need some good advice.
As humans, we are good at adapting to new situations when we have to. Children are especially good at changing course, but they still need us adults to explain things to them and give them guidance.
We have tried to collect some things it may be good to know and tips for fun activities to do as we try to make sure children, teenagers and parents make a positive experience out of this new situation.
Talk to children about Covid-19 and the coronavirus
It’s important to talk to your children about what is going on in order to reassure them and eliminate some of their fears.
- Remember that most people who get the virus will not be seriously ill. We are all doing our part to protect the most vulnerable among us.
- Explain why schools and kindergartens are closed, and why some people have to be in quarantine where they can’t meet others. Why can’t we go and visit the children's grandparents right now?
- Pay attention to the information children and teenagers may find online. Talk to them and establish a dialogue about what they are seeing and reading.
Babies and toddlers (aged 0–3)
These children primarily need an adult who is not stressed and who is present for them. Children this age live in the moment, have a limited perspective of time and tend to worry less than older children. Babies and toddlers use their parents or immediate caregivers as anchors, so if you feel safe, they feel safe.
Young children (aged 4–6)
Children aged 4–6 will need explanations. But the explanations you give them must be brief, so that the child can understand them. What you say must be true. Explain that the kindergarten is closed because of a virus that can infect many people and that to stop it, all children and all parents who can must stay home until we can stop the infection. Reassure them that everything is going to be all right.
It is important that you give the child enough information, because at this age, they tend to “fill in” any missing information themselves, in order to make sense of what is happening around them. And the information they invent on their own is often much worse than reality. Listen carefully and explain things as simply and as accurately as you can.
School-aged children (7–12 years)
Between the ages of 7 and 12, children’s development makes quite a leap. Among other things, they develop the ability to put themselves in other people’s situations and to understand serious consequences. That’s why it is especially important for children in this age group that you, as the adult, help reassure them by giving them reliable information.
Children in this age group will get information from other sources than their parents, by searching online, watching TV and reading posts on social media. There is a lot of information about the new virus out there now. It would therefore be a good idea to talk to your child about what they have read. Listen to them and tell them you understand why they are worried.
At the same time, you can correct any misunderstandings if your child believes something is worse than it actually is. Help your child find and understand information from good sources, such as the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Directorate of Health.
Teenagers (aged 13–18)
Teenagers probably don’t expect you to have all the answers. That’s why it's a good idea to ask some questions before you start explaining and informing — like you would with younger children.
It's also good to keep in mind that from age 13–14, friends and social networks are the most important things in their lives. It will therefore be a major transition for many teenagers to spend less time out and more time inside with their family. And while it may not always be easy, try to remain a stable, reassuring adult role model, even though you may feel exasperated and tired of having a frustrated teenager around the house. Give them of yourself, even though they think you’re a dinosaur. We just have to make the most of this situation, as best we can.
Can children play together now?
In this unique situation, the health authorities are recommending that we all limit our contact with other people. This also applies to children, but children need to play, and there are some guidelines for how children can be together. Some children also have more than one home — what are the recommendations in these situations?
Read more at Foreldrehverdag
Below are a few articles in English from Foreldrehverdag, which may be especially useful for families right now.
Help your child cope with difficult feelings
It is not always easy to understand your child’s strong emotions and see them from his perspective.
Set boundaries that your child understands
The way you set boundaries strongly affects whether your child understands and accepts what you say.
Alarmtelefonen (emergency telephone) for children and youths
Now that schools and kindergartens are closed, we know that some children and young people have to spend more time with adults who are not safe for them. Are you concerned about a child who may be having a difficult time? The emergency telephone (Alarmtelefonen) to child welfare services is open if you have experienced violence, abuse or neglect, or if you are concerned about someone you know. This hotline is now open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 116 111 and they will help you.