Skip to main content

108: How to Talk to Your Kids About the Coronavirus

By April 1, 2020November 9th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast
108: How to Talk to Your Kids About the Coronavirus

On the podcast this week, I’ve included a clip from a convo I had with The Styling Social Justice ladies, Rania and Donae. We talk about Coronavirus anxiety and how to talk to our kids about the uncertainty many of them are experiencing regarding this new normal right now.  We walk through the SAP process and really spell out how to have a productive convo about this unprecedented time in history with your kids.

As always, thanks for listening, and be sure and head over to Facebook and you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community, where we post tips and tools and do pop up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

Randi’s Social Links

Links & Resources

If you would like to listen to the full episode of the Styling Social Justice podcast you can click here.

Get my problem-solving one-sheet!

I created a simple one-sheet roadmap that will assist you in replacing the old school lectures with a tool that actually improves behavior through productive convos. Grab your problem-solving cheat sheet here:

For more help, reach out to me for support:

Get my Free Guide!

This guide contains the condensed nuggets of my mind mastering parenting recipe. I’ve been developing my signature Mastermind Parenting method for over twenty years and I’m BEEEyond thrilled to share it with you. It has the power not to just improve the conversations and relationships in your family but digging in and doing this work will change your life. I can’t wait for you to get started so I can teach you everything! Head over here to get your copy

Apply for Free Coaching!

Thank you so much for listening and being an amazing mama that listens to parenting podcasts! I absolutely love connecting with other moms during the Real Coaching with Randi monthly segment and share their story. If you would like to get some free coaching on a future episode, head over to and hit the Apply button.

Get my book!

Hear about my family history and the tools that have helped me replace old parenting patterns that simply don’t work with these puzzling kiddos. It’s my way of paying it forward as a human that wants our kids to experience a kinder and more generous world. Head over here to get your copy

Thanks so much for listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast, where we support the strong willed child and the families that love them!

If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the share button in the podcast player above.

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.


0 (0s):
You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein episode one Oh eight,

1 (6s):
My name’s Randi Rubenstein. And welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast where we believe when your thoughts grow the conversations in your home flow.

0 (19s):
Well, hi guys, we’re going to be releasing a clip from an interview. I did recently on the Styling Social social justice Podcast and if you want to watch the entire interview, you can, there’s a video of it and you go on Facebook and just search under a Styling social justice. It was a really good conversation and it was a few weeks ago. And so we talked about Coronavirus. It was before the schools were canceled here in Houston, but this is just like a 15 minutes clip. And we thought that it would be helpful. We walk through the PRODUCTIVE conversation. M we talk about it. It just is a good conversation in, and I think that you guys are really going to relate to it because I think what I’ve noticed is is that we don’t know how to have hard conversations.

0 (1m 3s):
And especially we don’t have to have hard conversations with our kids. Nobody wants to, and many of us find ourselves jumping into fix it mode, where are we happy up? And we try to tell them everything’s gonna be okay. And they don’t have to worry about this stuff. And there are some things that we definitely want to shield our kids from and, and decide what they need to know about what they don’t. But when you’ve got a global pandemic going on and everyone’s talking about it and they’re feeling all of it, they feel it all. If you, if your child feels it all, if you’ve got a situation like this, or if you have a highly sensitive child, a strong-willed child, and a lot of times, these kids there are highly intuitive. They feel everything.

0 (1m 43s):
And so the body never lies. So if they are feeling it anyway, and then they come and he tries to talk to you about it, and we’re like, it’s fine, its fine. You don’t need to worry about that. It feels very invalidating to them. And then they feel isolated and alone and they don’t know who they can talk to. So it’s really important for us as parents just to understand like why it’s so important to lean into these hard conversations. And, and why is it you’re literally establishing this dynamic between you and your child, where the child learns, especially if their coming to you before the teenage years, like they learn that you’re there a safe person. You, they can tell you anything like you’re not going to freak out. You’re not going to lie to them. You’re not going to try and sugarcoat. Like they can come and tell you their truth. They don’t have to have all those feelings and all that anxiety bottled up in their body.

0 (2m 24s):
They can express it to you. And so it’s, it really is an opportunity to sort of set the program in their brain. That you’re their person, because at another point in time, they’re going to, you know, what would it be have been like for most of us as teenagers who didn’t have that adult in our life that we truly felt like we could tell them anything that would be a sounding board for us and it wouldn’t invalidate us and, and they would just be our person. Like, I, I mean, I think it, that would be that that would have been incredibly helpful. So we have an opportunity to handle these conversations right now and, and set the tone for that later. Like, isn’t that an empowering you guys. So that’s what this little 15 minute does. And I would love to hear from you guys to let you know, like let us know if you find it helpful.

0 (3m 4s):
And if they want you to note in the coming weeks, we’re going to be including more clips from different things I’ve spoken about that we think will be helpful to you or a podcast audience. So there’s more about coronavirus and COVID-19 coming to your way and just more tips and tools and resources to support you and lead in your household in a calm way where everyone gets to feel safe. Even during uncertain times, enjoy it.

1 (3m 28s):
You’re watching the news last night and then you find yourself like, I need to turn it off. I need to find some positive messaging. Like I’ve got to kind of talk myself off the ledge because you felt your monkey mind taking over a hundred percent in line. That’s a great point of a monkey mind monkey. We all do. We all do. So did you notice like what you felt like in your body when you knew it was time to turn it off or find some pastors felt deep sadness? You know, I don’t even know that my body feels anything. And like, I just felt like a deep set, like just sadness for everything, because it felt like a dark cloud over, you have a little depression and like, you know, it was your heart racing at all or no.

1 (4m 8s):
Okay. No. Okay. So, so then you went and you found, so you do know what to do, but you just weren’t aware of it because you went to find, you are like, okay, this feels really sad. And I need to go and find that there are some positive messages in the world to talk myself off the ledge. So you actually did that. You got yourself into a calmer Headspace, otherwise you wouldn’t of been able to sleep true. Yes. True. So you did that. So a notice that you did that, so you don’t spiral into, I don’t know what to do. And I’m like, gosh, it so catastrophic and yadda yadda yadda. So you did that. Okay. And now you’re in the right head space and it’s exactly what did I just said.

1 (4m 48s):
So you’re like, we got through Harvey, you know, like this is resiliency right here in action, where you were like, okay, this is, this situation is bad. It is. We’re not going to argue with that. Its bad. And we’ve done this. We’ve done hard. We can do hard things. That’s who we are as people. Now, if you think about that, we can do hard things that makes me cry. I know it. So it is so empowering to know as a community, as a country, as a civilization. Right? And if you look at Harvey and look at how, like I have one of the moms in my Mastermind where she, and I remind her of this all the time, it was when she’s beating herself up over like, you know, she had a hard day with her kids, right?

1 (5m 35s):
And she went through a divorce and all of these different things. It was like, Oh my gosh, I went, it went through a divorce. I never expected this. My kids are going to be so screwed up. They, I had never thought that we’re going to come from a divorced family and she’ll start to spiral. And I’m like, let’s just take a minute and take a breath. You were the person that after Harvey, you didn’t overthink it. You mobilized, you went and fed to a thousand people. A, she like gathered all of these troops and put together this effort. Or literally for weeks she fed 2000 people a day. I was like, that is who you are. I was like, you were a leader. You are amazing. And you can do hard things.

1 (6m 17s):
You can have a hard day and you can get through it because look at all the, you know, all the evidence behind you of what you have done. And she was like, it was like, I felt her shoulders go back. I felt her body language change. So sometimes we have to remind us. And that’s really what I ultimately always aim to do is I say, I like to coach myself out of a job, right? Because you can coach yourself and remind yourself, like, look who we were after Harvey as a city. Like, and now this is everywhere. This is a worldwide what’s going on. And luckily for us, we have evidence, you know, pretty recently that we came together as a community and we handled it and we got through what we can do hard things, but it’s who we are.

1 (7m 6s):
My main tool that I teach is how to have productive conversations and not to shy away from difficult topics, which as parents, I think our natural instinct is to sugar to do exactly what you did to sugarcoat it, to try and take away all the discomfort to let them know you’re safe in the world. It’s, it’s primal for us. The reason you went to that place is because it is primal. Like we want to send them the message. Don’t worry, you’re safe. I’ll keep you safe. However, we have to meet them where they are, because the truth of the matter is they’re hearing the messages everywhere. So if we’re over here saying you don’t need to worry about this, it’s fine. We got this. Then they’re like, mom, doesn’t understand this.

1 (7m 47s):
This is everywhere. Everybody’s talking about it. Everyone’s freaking out. And the, an energetically, they feel the anxiety. So now all of a sudden we’ve sent them the message that they can’t talk to us about hard things. We’re not going to understand we’re going to invalidate their feelings. And then they’re not going to turn to us to support them when, when they really need us. Right. And what you did is normal and primal. So when we learned to have productive conversations, it’s actually a skillset that we learn. It does not come naturally. The more you practice it, the more natural it will come. And, and it’s really all about meeting them where they are mastering empathy.

1 (8m 28s):
Okay. So do you wanna kind of walk me through that situation? Cause I have another one where it’s like, I want to go play outside and I’m like, absolutely not. You will be,

2 (8m 36s):
I get kidnapped it because I, because of my work. So I, it was weird. I like balancing front yard yesterday and I said, she’s alone. She’s got to get done. She is going to get someone is going to grab her. And Bella’s mom, everyone does he get grabbed in? It’s just you being a Christian. So it’s like on the one hand, I’m like, I don’t want you to worry about anything. Mommy has it. Now on the other hand, I’m like, if you lost your mind, you want a ride, your bike ride. So what’s, what’s gotten into you. So what are you, what advice or are you crazy? And just, can I say that? I have been used to like, I literally my job,

1 (9m 13s):
My daughter, who’s 18. Who’s a senior in high school. I remember when she was about eight and we went on a bike ride or somewhere, and she was wearing this little purse and M and she goes to climb this tree. She was kind of a, an untamed child. And she takes, she takes off this little, like, like crossover, body person. I was kind of not really thinking about it was like, why does she have a person on this bike ride? It’s just like eight. And I look in there and there was this like knife from like my husband had bought her a knife at the Renaissance festival.

2 (9m 44s):
Yeah. And, and which I was like, really? You like, don’t buy them nights. He’s like, we’ve talked about the rules. You know? Cause she was kind of this untapped

1 (9m 51s):
As a kid and she like, or whatever. And he’s like, I was like, why are you a knife with you? It’s just like, why are you going through my purse? And I was like, why do you have a knife? She was like, mom, because you’ve made me realize that I always have to protect myself

2 (10m 5s):
Because I made her paranoid for the same

1 (10m 6s):
Way. So I’ve been that crazy mom too, just so you all know on that. But what I’ll say is, is, you know, we want to go to that place of sugarcoating and you’re safe. You’re safe, you’re safe, but they are getting messages everywhere else that, you know, this doesn’t feel very safe. So the way to help her feel safe is actually just to, to use a tool that is one of my favorite tools. And it’s called state the obvious tool. Let me tell you, I’m a real creative in naming my tools, state the obvious with literally you just, you just say what she just said, where she is like, what did she, how did she start it with you? What did she say, mama?

3 (10m 47s):
No, she was like, is I think she’s just saying like, what is going to happen to regroup? We do we have school anymore? Do I S S I mean, she’s asked about softball. I think everybody is going to get,

1 (10m 54s):
Okay. Okay. So state, the obvious would be, so Coronavirus all we’re hearing these messages everywhere. You’re hearing and hearing lots of messages. Maybe the school is talking about it may be, your friends are talking about it. Maybe your hearing it on the news. So your brain is like not knowing what to expect. And you’re like, is school gonna get canceled or what is going to happen? And so you’re like, kinda concerned about that. Yeah. Okay. So it sounds,

2 (11m 19s):
I heard Nicholas, but it’s not, I heard you,

1 (11m 21s):
It’s just your state, the obvious, which is exactly. She’s like, yeah, I am concerned. And you’re like, I get it. Everyone’s very concerned right now because we’re sort of waiting to see what happens. And the whole world is, you know, con is dealing with it in different ways. Italy just shut down. There’s all kinds of rumors here that school might cancel its towards the end of the year, we all had spring break trips and now we’re canceling those. And it’s like, we don’t know, day to day. What’s going to come next and it’s super concerning. And she’s like, yeah. You’re like, I understand why you feel concerned. I feel concerned two. And then what you really want next.

1 (12m 2s):
So that’s, that’s seeing her perspective. That’s the first step of the PRODUCTIVE conversation. Okay. So the PRODUCTIVE conversation I’ve, I’ve spilled out in three steps. S a P. So just to be corny, it spells the word SAP and it’s all about mastering empathy. Does it make you a Sappi parent? It makes you have a supportive parent. Okay. So you see their perspective, which is really just stating the obvious, like this year that you’re concerned, you are getting all these messages all over the place it’s concerning. The news is going crazy. Italy just closed the doors, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then she will hopefully be like, yeah, I am concerned.

1 (12m 45s):
And she starts talking and next, the next step in SAP is actively listen actively. Listen is literally, you don’t do it like a therapist. I know you have a master’s in therapy. So your, you know, when you go and see a therapist, which many of us have loved therapy there going to say like, how does that make you feel? And whenever we just want to mirror back, because if you are a constant, well, how does that make you feel? You know, I’m at it. Yeah. <inaudible> this is weird and creepy. So, so you’re just going to mirror back. You’re just like a sounding board. And then you mirror back and everything.

1 (13m 25s):
She says, you’re just like, and in a lot of times the mirroring back is just it it’s non-verbal so it’s like, mm yeah, concern. I get it. I get it makes sense. Like really? It’s just sending the other person the message. So like, I, I am not a hundred percent here with you. I get it. We’re in this together. I’ve got your back. Nothing’s off limits. We can talk about everything, your worthy of being listened to and heard. I’m not going to invalidate you. I’m not going to sugar coat. I’m going to give you respect to meet you where you are. Does that make sense? A a hundred percent. Yeah. And so it’s it. This is the hardest step actually for us, because most of us are recovering fixers.

1 (14m 7s):
We want to fix it. We want to solve. We want to sugarcoat. We want to make them feel better. You are safe in the world. Don’t worry. And we sort of have to duct tape our mouth on this. You don’t want to give words of wisdom. You don’t want to try and sugarcoat anything in this step. You just want to meet them where they are, which is I hear you. I’m here with you. You’re worthy of being heard. We’re right here together. We can do anything together. So this is a beautiful part of the empathy that just makes people feel you are not alone. And since we’re humans really we’re meant to be a part of a tribe.

1 (14m 47s):
We’re meant to be a part of a pack. Like the thing that feels unsafe to us on a primal level is when we feel all alone. So when we show up for our kids like this, it’s sending them that message. Like, we’re going to do this together. You are not all alone. So it’s a beautiful thing. Very, okay. The next step, the final step is the problem solving step P P okay. Now this is where we are going to get to share our guidance in our words of wisdom, but not at first. At first, we want to empower our kids to solve their own problem. And I’ve got a great little hack to do.

1 (15m 29s):
So you asked how or what questions, how or what questions are just so y’all know y’all are typing all of this and all the notes are on the spreadsheet.

3 (15m 41s):
On, on your website website. Randi Rubenstein you can actually download, you can sign up to Get the step-by-step process and it will be emailed to you. Write to your inbox. You can print it out. I

1 (15m 54s):
Have to go to the website. You can go to Mastermind Parenting dot com forward slash convo. Awesome convo. So it says it stands for having a PRODUCTIVE combo and its the three steps SAP so what or how questions. So it would be like, what do you think would make you feel more comfortable right now? Do you have any ideas? Like how can I help you to process all of this? Like what, what do you think would make you feel better right now in this situation that is pretty concerning and we have done hard things. We got through Harvey, we’ve done, you know, remember when grandma was sick and we weren’t expecting it.

1 (16m 35s):
And we all came together and we have done hard things, but how in this situation, can I help or support you to feel better? What do you think would feel better for you and Lee? And she might be like, I don’t know, I’m kind of already feeling better about it. So just being able to talk about it. So just like, you know what, so when you’re feeling nervous or anxious or you’ve heard things, does it make you feel better just to know like nothing’s off limits Bay, you can come and you can tell me anything and everything. Cause that’s really the message we want to get through to our Kids of course things off limits. So, so, so you already sort of feeling better about this and she’s like kinda yeah.

1 (17m 18s):
Like, OK, well, you know, I have some ideas to, so like let’s notice when we’re starting to feel anxious, let’s take, you know, I know it makes you crazy when I’m trying to keep myself from yelling and I take a deep breath and I like rub my hands together like this, but that I actually do that for a reason. And I learned it in yoga and it’s actually a way for me to calm my body down and to send my brain the message. Like there’s no tiger in the jungle. You’re not going to die. It’s going to be okay. So, you know, when I go and I rub my hands together, that’s actually a mindfulness, all that stuff they’re talking about in school. That’s you just bringing mindfulness into your life when you’re feeling anxious.

1 (18m 0s):
So taking that deep breath, walking over, washing your hands, rubbing your hands together. A noticing this saying to yourself, we can do hard things. We’re going to be okay. We made it through Harvey. Like I do that for my self and it helps me. So maybe you could do that for yourself. How does that sound? And so you’re just having a dialogue about this, but it’s super practical and it’s not preachy.

0 (18m 26s):
Hey podcast listeners. I know many of us are feeling anxious, stress out. There’s a lot of uncertainty going on with all things pandemic related and we’re not the only ones feeling it. Our S our kids are feeling it, especially our strong world. One’s. So if you’ve noticed even more dictator type behavior than normal, there’s a reason is because strong-willed kids. When they’re anxious, they have like little dictators. So if I’m describing your household, I’ve put something together for you. I want you to come to my three day free challenge. I’m going to teach you my best stuff. And we’re going to help your strong-willed kid to go from anxious dictator to aligned Zen master.

0 (19m 6s):
You heard that, right? I’m going to teach you some of my best staff. So go to Mastermind Parenting dot com slash challenge that’s Mastermind Parenting dot com. Ford’s us challenge. Sign up for the three day challenge. And I can’t wait to see it there.

Happy Household Cover

Sign Up for Our Newsletter and Get Our Free Guide

Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein