Mental Health First Aid Kit: Curious Toddlers
During this dreadful time of the Coronavirus, some toddlers may be happy to stay home. Others may be confused as they are not sure why they are home. They might feel that they have done something bad. That is why it’s important to reassure our toddlers that they didn’t do anything wrong and it’s just a safety precaution. They may have questions that could be hard to answer. Nonetheless, it’s essential to keep your response as simple and straightforward as can be.
Q: Why can’t I play with the other kids?
A: We need to take a break from playing with the other kids so that everyone can be healthy. The other kids are taking a break as well.
Q:Why are we wiping everything down?
A: We need to wipe everything to be clean, safe and healthy.
This may be a tricky answer for some however toddlers don’t understand germs so avoid over-explaining it to them.
Q: Why do some people wear masks?
A: Some people wear masks when they don’t feel well. Once they do, they will take off the mask.
Q: Why won’t mommy and daddy kiss me? Don’t they love anymore?
For young children, being away from their parents can be a sign of neglect for them as if they did something wrong. Simply explain to your child that their parents need to be away for a while and will come back once they feel better. In addition, have video chats engaging the child and their parent on a daily basis.
Q: Why can’t I go to school?
A: Your school is currently closed right now. Your friends and teachers are also home.
It’s best not to get into details about the illness so that they don’t freak out about going back to school.
Q: Why can’t my friends come over to play?
A: Right now, all families need to be home for a little while. This is how we stay healthy. I know it’s upsetting but once it gets better, you can then see your friends. Do you want to play a game of our own?
Q: Will I get sick too?
A: Don’t worry, little one. Everyone gets sick sometimes. Mommy and Daddy will make sure you don’t and if you do then we’ll take care of you.
If your child sees many people wearing masks, they may want to “pretend play” as if they are wearing a mask. Pretend play is a way for the child to make sense of the world by experiencing what they see around them. This can make some parents uncomfortable. If your child responds this way then have them wear a mask by playing a doctor or nurse on a teddy bear.
It can be frustrating having to answer and explain yourself. Take a breather. Children don’t know any better. It’s important for them to feel that they can come to you for anything. In addition, these are things you can do to avoid having to over-explain yourself:
Keep your daily routine as consistent as possible, regarding bedtime and naptime.
Limit your child to media exposure of the COVID-19. They can sense when you are stressed out.
Discuss your own worries when you children are not in the room.
Ultimately, your children are going to have questions that don’t have to be difficult to answer. A one or two simple, straightforward answers is enough for them without having to go into greater detail. Explain a change in the new routine and what your child can expect from day to day. This can ease them up and distract them from distress. Remember, you are doing the best you can and you should give yourself credit. And in case you need another reminder, let your children show the appreciation they truly have for you.
“The soul is healed by being with children.”~Fyodor Dostoevsky, novelist