• Deirdre Brandner

Talking to children about Corona Virus

Due to the coverage of the Coronavirus situation, some children, and adults, have become increasingly anxious. This a is a new phenomenon and as such this attract much attention and discussion. New things that are unknown can create anxiety until we remind ourselves of the evidence and ensure we are keeping up our usual routines, and habits.

Make sure you do not focus on this one news topic all the time, there are other things happening in our world and lives. Keep up routines and activities as normal, this includes usual shopping purchases

It’s important to help children identify the facts from the hype, Children become overwhelmed by the amount of information and the data and numbers associated with the coverage. Ensure they recognise that most of the information presented is for governments, travel organisers and hospitals. Explain what quarantine is, and treatment doesn’t mean hospital for most people, some stories are repeated in the news cycle.

Answer questions and acknowledge their feelings. Explain using facts that provide evidence that they are safe, e.g for most people coronavirus is like any illness and they recover at home. Many children seem to be naturally protected against this virus. Even though lots of people get sick they recover. Those that don’t sometimes already have other health conditions.

How we respond as adults impacts how they interpret this situation. Children will use us to socially reference this event. We cannot bulk buy sanitiser and then tell our children everything is fine. They won’t believe us. The greatest support you can give your child is not making your anxiety contagious.

What can I say to my child:  Suggest that they wash their hands like they always should: with soap before they eat or put their hands in their mouth. Remind them that the only thing they need to do is look after their own bodies to stay healthy.

Revisit their concerns if needed: Children often try to outdo each other at school with rumours and exaggerated figures about these events. Remind children not to engage in these and not exclude others because of this false information.

What does this look like for children:

  • Mum and Dad are going to nag you to wash your hands properly and more often.

  • Maybe your holidays will change because some airports or countries are closed.

  • You won’t have to wear a mask

  • You will still have to go to school!

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