Parents are now facing the challenge of talking to their children about COVID-19. It is common for children to feel anxious at times like these, particularly as their ability to understand the situation and to keep things in perspective is more limited. Here are some tips on supporting your children:
- Try and speak to them about coronavirus in a calm and age appropriate way.
- Listen to their concerns and answer their questions with simple facts. Don’t try to hide what is happening from them as this can make children more anxious. Instead try and be open and honest.
- Avoid overwhelming them with unnecessary information such as alarming facts or figures about the virus and it’s spread.
- Let them know that it is okay to be worried but also provide reassurance that adults are working really hard to keep them and others safe.
- Reassure them that coronavirus is less common and less severe in children than adults.
- Educate children on how to care for themselves through handwashing demonstrations, sneezing etiquette and helping them understand social distancing strategies. There are some great video clips online that might assist you with this, such as The Wiggles song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_02FuyeCWFU) for little kids, or the science of soap (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9z2U3Vok0M) for older kids.
- Limit their exposure to media such as news broadcasts that might bring up unnecessary anxiety. However, if your children are watching the news, sit with them so you can address any questions or fears that may arise.
- Help your kids stay connected. If you are at home with your children for a period of time find a way to connect them with their friends or other family members through the use of technology such as FaceTime.
- Keep your kids busy through planned activities or outdoor exercise.
- Try to keep the family routine as much as possible. Though work and school may change for a while, try to maintain your regular schedules for things like playtimes, meals and bedtimes.
- Importantly, keep your own anxiety in check. Children can pick up on your fear through listening and observing how you respond to situations.
- Seek professional help as needed. Sometimes children might need to talk to someone other than parents and carers. Talk to your GP or Psychologist if needed.
Written by Kaitlyn Miller, Clinical Psychologis