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?