We are in a challenging moment of time. As parents we have a choice to make about how we communicate and protect our children from this very scary and for most of us unprecedented virus. Because most of us have never experienced this type of threat, we have no roadmap on how to care for our children both emotionally and medically.
We all come to the table with our own personality styles. Some of us are laid back, have low anxiety about the things we can't control, and some of us feel the need to control what we can, to manage our own anxiety in order to function. This virus will challenge either style. Laid backers will need to be more directive than they usually are in teaching their children about hygiene and hand washing, and appropriate coughing and sneezing protocol. Their natural go-to, don't worry, it will all be fine, will need some adjustment. Teens by nature think they are invincible and wear a protective armor that nothing bad will happen to them. So they might not be on top of what they need to do to stay safe. They may be resentful, angry and resistant to what they see as trying to be controlled, especially if you have been a more laid back parent. But you will need to model and realistically communicate that this is a time where "it will all work out" needs to move towards, we need to be more active about our own safety.
On the other hand, if you are a person who has a tendency and need to control, and are in a state of high anxiety about your children, you may need to pull back a bit. One thing we don't want our kids to do, is to develop and integrate our fears. Some kids are very cautious and fearful by nature. And for them this can be a terrifying time, feeling the world is going to end, and they will be left alone in it. As a parent with your own big fears, it will be important to understand their anxiety, but also let them know that there are very concrete things we can do to keep us safe. And that we are all here to take care and protect each other.
And again if you have a teen who does not carry a lot of anxiety around with them, they will certainly be extremely resistant if you ask them to give up and not go to places and events that they feel entitled to go. Prepare for a fight. But if you stay calm, and use this I Get It conversation, you may get less resistant. Rather than" You are not going, don't you get how dangerous this virus is. Haven't you heard about the kid that ........Sorry but you are not going!"
Instead say " you know honey, I get how unfair this feels. I know how important and how you were so looking forward to XYZ. But until the experts tell us that these kinds of events are OK and safe, we need to follow their lead. Let's think of an alternative that will be fun and safe."
Neither "Don't worry it will all be fine" or "you are not leaving the house" is useful. There is a middle ground of "this is scary AND we need to take care and still live our lives the best we can.
Stay healthy everyone, AND go enjoy this beautiful day!!!