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  • Deirdre Brandner

5 Tips for Managing your child and COVID-19: As Seen on ABC News Breakfast Today


1. Model a calm approach:

Children look to you for guidance, you are their anchor.

If you are stressed and anxious they will pick up on this, they will watch to see what your do or say after a news update.

As parents we are going to have set the example, engage positively: play games, have family rituals, do jobs together.

Put things into perspective: schoolwork, messy room

Don’t use emotional statements to get them to comply, (“if don’t wash your hands you’ll get sick” instead “the rules is we wash our hands to stay safe”).

2. Be Prepared to answer questions…..again and again

As adults we are glued to information about this because we feel it will reduce our anxiety. This only of benefit when we get calm clear and direct answers….same goes for children

Children will have different worries and questions than adults do.

They will worry about them getting sick or you getting sick, explain what we are doing to keep safe and that the impact of the virus is greater for certain people.

They will ask about grandparents being okay, explain that they are following the rules to keep safe, we can facetime or write letters.

They will ask what happens in shared parent situation, when can they see their friends, when will they play footy, will I have my birthday….. For those questions try and work out alternatives but don’t make promises you can’t fulfill.

Have honest conversations and admit that you are not sure about things but acknowledge that there will be a plan for the next few days ahead and we can work together.

3. Watch your language

Explain what quarantine means…”you won’t be wearing a hazmat suit”

Self isolating does not mean you have COVID-19.

Avoid using stockpiling, or pandemic,

Use:

Situation not Crisis

Uncertain not Panic

Staying at home not Stuck at home

Learning at home not Home schooling

4. Routine

This is so important. Why?….uncertainty makes everyone anxious, children need regular eating, sleeping and activity schedules. knowing what you will be doing in your day and in what order not only reduces ambiguity but allows us to remain engaged and productive. You may have a routine in your mind but it needs to be visual for your child. Put it on a white board, or a sheet of paper. No need for exact times just have a sequence and be realistic.

5. Help children focus on what they can control and empower them

We feel more anxious when we are not in control, and this situation has robbed of this.

Children can be empowered by:

Following the recommendations of the experts that helps us stay safe

Washing hands

Good sneezing and coughing habits

Staying home

Not visiting others

Other ways to empower children :

Have choice over activities they are doing tomorrow , what family movie we watch, what family game we play or what we have for dinner one night.

Do things for the community; Teddy Bears in windows, checking on neighbours.

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© 2019 Deirdre Brandner Psychologist