By Tony Rose
Adair County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development
During the past week, it has seemed to most that the world has turned upside down. With all that has happened in just the past week related to the COVID-19 virus, it has affected us all. Adults are having a hard time grasping all that is going on. Can you imagine how it is affecting our youth? It is important that we not forget that there is a need to talk with our youth about all that is going on. I heard someone say we need to shelter our kids from all this and act as if it is not happening. That is the worst thing we could do for all our youth, they see, hear and know what is going on. We need to make sure that they have accurate information about all that is going on and be able to express their feelings about everything.
HONESTY is the best policy. Be honest with the youth and give them the facts. There are so many things floating out there, especially in the social media world. Make sure to use the correct facts and information. If you don’t know, explain to them that you don’t know but there is a lot of unknown about all that is going on. Depending on the age of the youth, try to relate it to something they may already be familiar with like a cold or the flu. Explain to them why all the cancellations and closing are going on. It is an effort to decrease the spread of the virus and help keep us all safe.
LIMIT how much they are exposed to the news, social media and other sources of information on the virus. The best thing is always staying CALM when dealing with this or any other situation. Don’t run and quickly turn off the TV if you see them watching reports on the subject. Again, depending on the ages of the youth, this might lead to a good time to discuss it with them. You can also try to redirect their attention by offering to read a book or just play together.
We cannot promise our youth that the virus will not affect our community or someone they know, always reassure them. Explain to them that there are a lot of people who are working to keep them safe. This quote from Mister Rogers is great to use. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Help them find the good that is going on during all of this, it can help to reassure them but also will help us all as well.
ALWAYS make sure to use fact when having any discussions with youth. There is a lot of information out that is not supported by facts. So if you need information use trusted sites like the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Health Department. Don’t make light of all that is going on but always reassure them that everyone is working to improve the situation and that in time things will improve.