During these difficult times, as we are all facing the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be cases where both parents have, or are at-risk of, infection and must enter self-quarantine. Here are some suggestions on how to explain and discuss the matter with your children, helping them to cope with the situation while you are away.
Before going into your 14-day quarantine, clearly explain the reasons to your children in a way that they can understand, using explanations and wording appropriate to the child’s age.
Make sure to emphasize to children that daddy and mommy are not seriously ill, and that by taking these quarantine steps they and everyone else is less likely to catch any sickness from you. Make sure they understand that after the 14 days have passed, the family can go back to living together as before, and that, in the meantime, there will be people there who they know, like their grandparents, uncles and aunts, or other people you trust to look after them. Tell them that whenever you miss each other you can keep in touch through social media and by video-call.
Your attitude and demeanor is key. Try not to show anxiety or wear a sad face. Tell yourself and your children with confidence that self-quarantine is the best, most appropriate action to take right now. There are times when we must have patience and endure certain difficulties or give up things we want or desire. You will want to be close to, and care for, your children, and your children will desire to be with you. However, for everyone’s best in the long-term, everyone in the family must be patient and stay strong so that you can get through this difficult time together. In general, children will easily adjust to living for 14 days without their parents without developing any psychological or emotional problems. Once you return from this short-term separation you will be together and happy just as you were before.
In certain rare cases, if your child has issues with anxiety or depression, or starts to display symptoms such as separating from others, crying often, a lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, irritability, frequent whining, or throwing fits to the point that the adults caring for them are unable to handle the situation, consulting a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist may be helpful. These professionals can help to identify any factors that may contribute to the child’s extreme reactions to separation from their parents, and they can help advise relatives or guardians on steps to take and ways to handle the child’s outbursts in a rational, appropriate manner. Consulting a doctor or childhood psychologist through our online Virtual Hospital can give your family the peace of mind to successfully navigate these troubling times.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kean University, 1995