Understanding Covid-19: A Question from My Child
Instilling care and hope in kids while discussing the global pandemic
Written by Shaleen Porwal
01 Shaleen is a father, positive parenting education practitioner, and certified positive educator at The Flourishing Center in NYC.
02 During a conversation with his son Ivan, Shaleen found ways to shift focus away from the negative aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak, and discuss the topic productively.
03 He hopes other parents work with their children to balance honesty and precautionary language, with gratitude and a sense of human resilience.
Today, after having breakfast, my son and I were reading his favourite storybook. In one of the stories, they mentioned a person falling sick — something that is top of mind for all of us these days.
In response, my son asked, “Dadda, what is happening in the world because of Coronavirus?”
His question sent shivers down my spine, because the news that I have been following on the spread of the pandemic, is not particularly good. How should I translate all that distressing information to him in a way that is honest, but not alarming?
I had an idea: let's head to the World Health Organisation Situation Report and see what the experts are saying.
As we opened up the computer and searched for the right link, I thought a bit more. I wanted him to have a positive approach to the situation, not a negative one. But I also wanted him to understand that things are serious, and we must take care of ourselves and others.
I realised that maybe this conversation with my child was an opportunity to introduce a few new life lessons that are not usually on our conversation list.
Below is a Parenting Approach that I followed:
With the WHO data in our hand, we first checked what was happening in Wuhan, China where the virus started. I told him that even during the intense stress of a viral spread, people everywhere are staying strong and firm. We performed a calculation together using the Data Interpretation, in which we figured out how many "infected people who have survived" there are. Our next calculations were on regions that did not have any deaths, and so on.
I mentioned to him that everywhere in the world, humans are being affected by it. However, there are many places where people are safe because of the great efforts being taken by their governments, employers, schools, community organisations and neighbors. We need to thank the people around us for keeping us safe. And thus, gratitude was introduced organically, something that I had never thought of earlier.
Spirituality & Responsibility
While discussing safety, he asked, “can we all be safe?” To which I answered, “Well, we can pray that the power of nature helps u stay as safe as we can be," I continued, “and that we all do our part by taking precautions like washing hands, or listening to other tactics advised by authorities.” We then spent a few moments thinking good thoughts for all people in the world, and hoped for everyone's wellbeing.
Limitations & Realism
Naturally, his follow-up was about the people who have taken precautions, but still fall sick. To which I responded, “we are sometimes limited by natural forces like the one in this scenario, and we have to think what can be practically possible.” I further continued, “our knowledge of this virus is limited, and that is why we are not able to treat or vaccinate people like we do for other diseases.”
After our discussion, we took a big, deep breath and formed a family hug. We kissed each other and continued our day with care and hope.
This conversation reminded me, that as a global civilisation, we can collectively learn so much from this pandemic situation. Countless industries are forming their own takeaways and suggestions so that future pandemics and generations are prepared to minimize the harm caused by similar scenarios. Or, prevent them entirely.
At the same time, there is a large population of children and an unorganised industry of "parenting" who are apart of this as well. Fear is equal for adults and children alike. However, we need to inform and guide our kids in a careful way, so that the focus is not just on fear, but on what can we learn and share to make tomorrow's world brighter.
After all, our children are our future. They will be with us through this phase, and guide their own children through the next.