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Communicating with Kids about COVID-19

With Seedling’s temporary communication policies in place, mentors will soon have the opportunity to communicate with their mentee in a safe and intentional way.  As the COVID-19 pandemic alters our everyday lives, your mentee may have questions or have daunting fears.  While there is no script that will tell you what to communicate to your mentee about our current reality and the epidemic, being mindful of our mentee’s age, developmental stage and appropriate boundaries is important.

In his letter, “Connection in a time of Social Distancing” David Shapiro, President & CEO at MENTOR reminds us that “in confusing times, when we are enduring something for the first time, being there for each other (even if not in physical proximity), listening to individual and unique concerns, owning what we do and don’t’ know, and showing up in whatever way makes sense is as powerful as ever.”

On the website Science Alert, Mike Mcrae reminds us that “it’s important to provide the right amount of information framed by the right amount of optimism when communicating with kids.”

Here are a few tips that might help.

Be honest. Be appropriate.

Not acknowledging something can actually make kids worry more.  Keep it simple for young kids and provide more detailed information for older kids, but always keep the message as positive as possible in terms of what the world is doing to try and stop the virus spreading.

Keep Calm. Keep Positive.

If you notice that you are feeling anxious, take some time to calm down and share your fears with friends and loved ones.  It is not helpful to pass along our own fears and worries to our mentees.

Stay flexible. Stay alert.

Disappointment is a legitimate emotion, no matter what we are missing out on.  The important thing is learning how to respond and manage our expectations.  Promote the silver lining, “people are working together, looking out for each other, we are taking care of the most vulnerable in our society, we are keeping the germs away as best we can.”  Focus on what they are doing to stay safe!  An important way to reassure kids is to emphasize the safety precautions we are all asked to take, washing hands, covering coughs, and staying home.

It is also important to keep in mind that your mentee may or may not wish to communicate about what is happening and that is okay.  As always, listen first, allow your mentee space to share or not, and do no harm. Your Mentor Director is available to help.  Stay well!

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