As the recommendations around social distancing and reopening continue to evolve, families will need to respond and make plans according to their own comfort level and needs. Parents may need to have conversations—sometimes hard ones—about similarities, differences, and respect. Consider these ideas.
Changes, Challenges, and Conversations
There have been lots of similarities in everyone’s experience of COVID-19, but every family has also had their own unique situations. We’ve all faced different challenges. Listening to everyone’s stories about what they have been through—and understanding what they’re now facing as their plans continue to unfold—is a good opportunity to help all children build empathy, see others’ perspectives, and build their own resilience.
The rules of social distancing will vary from family to family and place to place. But even after communities start reopening and many people move more freely, families who have a member at higher risk or a parent who is an essential worker may continue to face more challenges in their safety practices. It can be hard for children to understand constantly changing rules, and the different decisions that each family must make as they go along. It’s hard to make plans when things are always shifting, and it’s frustrating to not have all the answers.
But we’re all still in this together. You can help children by modeling good listening, thoughtfulness, compassion, and empathy. Encourage children to ask you questions about how others are doing, what’s been happening in their lives, and why they may be making certain choices or plans. Let them hear you ask questions of friends, neighbors, and family members not in your household. You might ask others:
- How have you been doing?
- What is new in your lives right now?
- What has been the hardest part of this for you?
- What feels the most challenging right now?
- What has helped you through this time so far?
- What have you learned to do during this time?
- What problems have you already solved?
- What are you most looking forward to doing again, once things become easier?
- What is your wish for the future?
- Is there anything I/we can do to help?
A New Kind of Picnic
- Before Viewing: Explain that you’ll watch Elmo, Abby, and Rosita have a special kind of picnic—Elmo and Abby are at a park, and Rosita is at home. Each family makes decisions that are right for them, but they’re still able to share a favorite activity together.
- During Viewing: Watch once all the way through, then watch again, pausing to talk together about what you’re seeing. You might talk about similarities and differences and how each family has its own strengths, challenges, and circumstances. Point out how Abby and Elmo are being good listeners.
- After Viewing: As you go through the day, practice having kind conversations. Let children know it’s okay to have questions, and that there are ways to ask them compassionately. Try these phrases in your own conversations with others: “How have you been doing?” “That must be hard.” “What are you looking forward to?” “Oh, I admire the way you ______” (keep your sense of humor, for example).
Picnic Play Date
Launch Picnic Play Date
Even as the issues around the COVID-19 pandemic continue to change, it’s good to remember that we’re all still in this together. Families may not do things the same way, but we can all still connect and have fun. We can also respectfully talk about our differences.
Use this art activity to help children imagine what they’d bring to a picnic. As you play, talk together about what strengths they can “bring” to their relationships with others, such as their kindness, curiosity, humor, or enthusiasm. We all have something to offer!