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Talking to my son about the coronavirus

It's okay to be scared, even when we need to make sure that we're not *too* afraid. And I'm kind of 'sad and nervous' too

So my 6.5-year-old has been acting his age a lot lately if you understand what I mean. Probably nothing unprecedented, so we started getting him therapy and looking into other things.

His behavior has been getting better. That is, until a couple of days ago. It suddenly got much worse and it was hard to tell if it had to do with the erratic schedule of Purim. After tonight, and moving him around the apartment where he wouldn’t yell at his sister or at my wife, I laid him on the couch, turned off the lights, then started to talk about how we feel when something is making us nervous.

I took an educated guess. What was bothering him was the endless talk about the coronavirus.

What followed was a 20-minute talk about the virus, dealing with fear, knowing that it’s okay to be scared because it makes doctors go out and look for new medicines, even when we need to make sure that we’re not *too* afraid. And of course, I told him all the talk was making me kind of “sad and nervous” too.

And that it was OKAY to feel those things and that he isn’t alone.

This is hardly me bragging, but it worked. He’s a lot calmer. He’s a little bit more okay with being scared of the talk around the virus, and okay with the other things he’s dealing with.

Tomorrow, of course, will be another day of us dealing with him and him dealing with his issues internally.

But it’s important to remember, PLEASE realize your kids are hearing all the talk about the virus too. They hear teachers whispering about it, their parents arguing with what to do if they get stuck at home with the kids and everyone’s in quarantine, and about whether or not they can visit their grandparents because they don’t want to make them sick.

It’s extremely overwhelming for a lot of us adults. Now consider being 6.5 years old and having to deal with the same thing. See if your kids want to talk about it (or, also possible, talk about something else). Nothing like this has happened in 100 years, so the playbook isn’t exactly common knowledge.

Good luck and let’s all help each other out right now. Psychologically, too.

About the Author
Gedalyah Reback is an experienced writer on technology, startups, the Middle East and Islam. He also focuses on issues of personal status in Judaism, namely conversion.
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