The role of grandparents in the time of the Coronavirus

Grandparents, grandchildren and the coronavirus

Unable to see their grandchildren for public health reasons and above all to preserve their safety (they are among the most affected by the Coronavirus), grandparents are always a precious and important figure. Let's see how they can play their role even in this precarious and complicated time, marked by the pandemic. We asked Daniele Novara, pedagogist and founder of the Piacenza CPP, to give parents and even grandparents some organizational advice, such as those found in his latest book "Organized and happy " (Bur Parenting).

In this article

  • The importance of grandparents in the time of the Coronavirus
  • How to explain to children that they cannot see their grandparents due to the Coronavirus emergency?
  • What grandparents can do at home to make grandchildren feel that they are close to them?

The importance of grandparents in the time of the Coronavirus

Let's make a premise, which may seem obvious but it is good to reiterate it: because it is important to maintain the bond with grandparents even in this complicated and unprecedented situation?

"Because grandparents represent genealogical continuity: they are the concrete manifestation of the fact that each of us has roots, that behind every child there is a family, a genealogical tree, a story. Through the figures of grandparents, children acquire the awareness of not having come into the world as spontaneous but loved and desired mushrooms, within a story ".

Read also: Organized parents are happy parents: three points to put into practice

How to explain to children that they cannot see their grandparents due to the Coronavirus emergency?

"We take into account the fact that there are many parents who have grandparents in the south and work in the north: their children are used to not seeing their grandparents for long periods. By definition, the presence of these grandparents is not continuous. There are also opposite situations, in which children are used to staying every day at their grandparents' house: the frequency of telephone contacts should be traced to what real life has been until now ".

Not seeing grandparents is certainly a regret, but "children have great adaptability and somehow they make up for it. The important thing is to adapt the method of communication to their age ".

How to adapt communication to age:

  • 0- 3 YEARS. "At the nursery the child is completely immersed in sensoriality ". Communication must be simple and essential, seeing the grandparents on the phone the little ones will be happy and will not ask too many questions.
  • 4 YEARS. "From the 4th year of life the child is no longer pure sensoriality, but begins to acquire forms of construction of reality: the phenomenon of " cognitive reconnection ". They understand that their grandparents are distant and that for some time it is not possible to see them due to a virus ".
  • 5 YEARS. "At the age of 5, the concept of irreversible loss: the child understands for example that the goldfish that passed away will never come back and lives this suffering. It is a concept that must be inserted gradually: the brains of 5-year-olds have the opportunity to understand this situation but they do not necessarily want to use this competence. These are cognitive availabilities that have their times and their contextualizations ". At this age, therefore, they may begin to fear losing their grandparents if the explanations provided are not appropriate for their age and if the parents are not careful not to over-disclose their concerns.
  • 6 - 7 YEARS. "Up to 6, 7 years it can be said that for a period not yet well defined children will not see their grandparents, it is not necessary to explain the reasons in detail, a generic concept of health protection is enough ".
  • 8 YEARS. "For the older ones, from the age of 8 when the thought is a little more formed, we can signal the presence of a disease that we must avoid and therefore everyone stays at home ".

The general rule is that "communications should be very dry and limited, just enough to tell the little ones what their life will be like: they won't go to school, they'll stay at home, they can play games, do a little bit. homework, reading and listening to grandparents on the phone one or more times a day. In short, in education it is always better to communicate to children what they will do or must do rather than giving excessive "explanations ". Operational communications are the most effective.

BEWARE OF EXCESSIVE ASSURANCE. "Finally, attention must also be paid to the excess of reassurance, there is direct communication and subliminal communication. Adults often end up conveying their concerns while trying to be soothing, as if reassuring children became a way to soothe themselves ".

Read also: Family and environmental sustainability: how to adopt a greener lifestyle with children

What grandparents can do at home to make grandchildren feel that they are close to them?

Taking into account what has just been said, namely that the theme of disappearance and loss arrives in the 5th year, conversations with grandparents who are healthy "should possibly be not very long and always focus on concrete topics. If the grandparents are not well, the theme of the disease should be inserted gradually and always paying attention to the child 's age and his possibilities of understanding ".


  • ACTIVITIES OF THE DAY. "The questions to the little ones might focus on the day's activities: " tell me what drawing you did, show me, show me the Lego tower ". For their part, grandparents can show the things they have done: for example a cake, if the flowers have sprung up on the balcony, if they have arranged a corner of the house in a different way, if they have hung pictures of their grandchildren on the wall ".
  • THE STIMULI. "Grandparents can also remember the games they played together with their children, such as playing cards, and suggest that the little ones play them with their mothers. They can then commission the children to draw drawings, chores and recipes to make and deliver to their grandparents in the future, to gratify them and make them feel committed and important ".
  • FAIRY TALES AND STORIES. "Conversations can also be filled with the telling of a story, a fairy tale. For children aged 8 and up, it is also very nice to listen to grandparents tell their life experiences: from when they were children, childhood memories, how Italy was in their time ". Fairy tales can also be told with a whatsapp audio or video or sent via pdf to parents.
  • SMART GIFTS. To help parents during the quarantine, through online purchases, markers, paints but also boxed games or books can be delivered that give some ideas to mum and dad, such as "Learning by playing " by Marta Versiglia ".

The interviewee

Daniele Novara he is an educator and founder of the CPP of Piacenza.

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