Helping and Serving Kids During Coronavirus
Life has been interrupted. All around the world, government officials, health care professionals, and industry leaders are trying to discern how best to respond to COVID-19 (coronavirus) and its effects on the needs and wellbeing of our communities. Financial markets are suffering, grocery stores are being overwhelmed, schools are closing, travel is being halted, and individuals, as well as entire neighborhoods, are being quarantined. For many adults, concern, fear, and anxiety are intensifying as the uncertainty this pandemic brings grows and spreads globally.
Our children are witnessing this uncertainty, as well. In many places, school systems are on extended closures and sporting activities are being cancelled. For some children, their parents are also home from work as a precaution, while interactions with their grandparents, a vulnerable demographic to the illness, are being limited. The 24-hour news coverage on their televisions, social media, and online sites is unavoidable. It’s a scary time for kids too.
As parents and ministers to children, there are many ways that we can help navigate our children through this crisis. This is an important moment. We have a significant opportunity and task to guide our kids physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But how do we do this?
Listen to them. Listen to what they have to say. Find out what they know, what they have heard, and how they are feeling.
Talk to them. Respect their fears and don’t minimize them. Correct any false information they have received and answer their questions. If you don’t know the answer, help them find it. Give them the facts.
Pray with them. We can remind our kids that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV). Pray with them asking God to protect them and your family from the virus. Ask Him to give you wisdom. Pray for those impacted by the illness and the researchers and scientists combatting it. Thank God for the hope we have in Christ, our Savior and Healer.
Coach them. According to the World Health Organization, some simple preventative measures can help in the fight of the spread of oncornavirus. These measures include washing our hands thoroughly and protecting others from our coughs. According to the WHO, we should teach kids:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water.
- Wash your hands after coughing, before/after eating, after visiting the restroom, when hands are dirty, when handling animals.
- When coughing or sneezing cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your flexed elbow.
- Throw used tissues away immediately after use.
- Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
Turn the television off. Research from experts like the Center on Media and Child Health reports that exposure to news programming leads to children experiencing fear. Add a global health crisis and doomsday reporting to the programming and it’s a recipe for escalated anxiety for our kids. Yes, we should stay apprised of the latest updates and remain vigilant in combatting the spread of this virus. However, we should limit how much of this news our kids are exposed to.
A note to churches. Hopefully your ministry is already adhering to hygiene policies and sanitizing your ministry spaces. These policies should include frequent handwashing/sanitizing by your staff, disinfecting toys and supplies weekly, and regularly cleaning equipment, surfaces, and walls. A useful cleaning checklist can be found here.
This is an unusual time for us, for our families, and for our children. I believe God will bless our efforts—creatively and inspirationally—as we seek to bring peace, healing, and information to the kid we serve.
Free At-Home Discipleship Materials
CDC Info Posters for Kids
Infographics and Posters for Coaching
Video: Germ Smart – Wash Your Hands
Song: Wash Me Hands (Orange)
Center for Disease Control (CDC): Updates + FAQs
CDC: Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
Johns Hopkins Medicine: Coronavirus vs. the flu
OSHA: COVID-19 Control and Prevention
World Health Organization (WHO): News + Updates