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Why You Should Ask Your Kids How They're Feeling About the Pandemic

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My 5-year-old daughter is extreme in most things she does. She’s extremely smart, funny, and extremely good at remembering every word I’ve ever said to her.

“Hey Mommy, remember when you said we’d go to Disney World when I turned 7? Well, I’m almost close.”

“Mommy, remember when Elliott was being borned and you said I’d get a big sister lollipop? I think you forgot to give me that lollipop.”

I post quotes from my daughter on my Facebook almost daily, because at this point, her father and I are no longer shocked by most of the things she comes up with.

This morning she informed my husband that the dog was chewing on our cat’s head. My husband told her that our cat, Fred, likes it when our dog, Lemon, does that. Which is weirdly true.

How does Violet respond? “This zoo is… interesting.”

We are working hard on the way she talks to other people, which means we must watch what we say at all times as well. Our current task is trying to get her to say “bye” instead of “later, haters!”

Having such an outgoing little girl and her little brother who is 2, I was worried how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect them. Once their daycare had to shut down, I was extremely worried. They both surprised me, however. While there have been days full of exhaustion as my husband and I work from home full time and I am in classes for my MBA program, it has been really rewarding being able to teach them fun things.

I’m grateful they’re young enough to probably not remember how anxious their mommy is day in and day out. How uncertainty makes me frustrated sometimes and causes me to not be able to get on their level and let them know what is going on. How their father and I are trying to come up with new activities to keep them occupied, while also trying not to let them sit in front of the TV all day.

We were surprised because even after their Zoom calls with their friends and the Mother’s Day cards we made together, they haven’t expressed sadness. They haven’t complained a bit. OK, that last sentence is a lie. They’re 5 and 2. Of course they’ve complained 7,000 times. But they haven’t begged to go anywhere. Both know this is not their normal schedule, but I’m entirely grateful they’ve taken this in stride.

Today, though, my daughter let me in on how she is really feeling. Her friend, a neighbor, rode by our house on his bike, and Violet didn’t smile or wave. She started to cry. She cried hard. She said she misses her school and wants to walk there to see her teachers and read the books. We talked about what is happening right now. She knows as much as people are getting sick and we are protecting ourselves and others by staying inside, but I won’t give her more details right now. Then she said it. “I hope I didn’t get forgotted.”

With a mom who has anxiety and depression, along with a slew of health conditions, this kid doesn’t stand a chance in ignoring her feelings. I’m so determined to make sure my kids are OK mentally and physically, I’m sure they’re already sick of me. But, it’s so difficult to know how those little minds are really working and putting things together. If we don’t ask how they are feeling, we might miss an emotion. We might miss something we can reassure them on and help them get a better understanding. It shocked me into realizing I hadn’t asked that question and she didn’t know how to tell me.

I encourage everyone to ask their kids, regardless of their age, how they’re feeling right now. They’re only little for so long, and letting them feel unsure or uncertain because of unasked questions is a thief of time.

For more on parenting during quarantine, check out the following stories from our community:

Getty image by Interstid.

Originally published: May 12, 2020
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