The COVID-19 pandemic has hit almost every corner of the world and is a serious health issue that has compelled nations to go under complete lockdown for over a month now. With the extensive coverage on the outbreak across all new channels, children especially can develop fear, anxiety and stress about the unknown. These feelings, when combined with school closures, event cancellations and distancing from friends can have a negative impact on the young minds.
Therefore, as parents it is important to talk to your child about the situation as well as reassure them about their safety and health without relying on external sources. If you’re unsure of how to approach the subject, here are a few pointers that will give you a clear idea on how to talk about the COVID-19 outbreak and the potential risk factors:
- Talk about the current situation: Communication is the first step to help your children fight this pandemic. With most of the news and articles covering the coronavirus outbreak and children seeing people wearing face masks, most of them are already aware of the situation. So instead of avoiding to talk to your child, it is better to address the epidemic and help them prepare.
Infact, parents are advised to take this as an opportunity to convey the facts and set precautionary measures. But be weary of not indulging in baseless information. Janine Domingues, PhD, a child psychologist at Child Mind Institute explains, “You take on the news and you’re the person who filters the news to your kid”. Therefore, parents should make it a point to give factual information and filter out the news that is not beneficial to the child.
- Indulge in as much information as required: At this time, it is also important not to volunteer too much information, as it can be overwhelming for children. Instead, try to answer your child’s questions. Do your best to answer honestly and clearly. It’s okay if you can’t answer everything; being available to your child is what matters.
- Listen to your child: Ask them if they have any questions or need clarity on anything they have heard about COVID-19. Give them ample opportunity to ask questions. This will also help you clear any misunderstandings they have about the virus that might frighten them. Your sole aim should be to pass on factual information.
- Reassurance is the key: With the ongoing pandemic, it is obvious that the media will be giving live updates about coronavirus which might affect kids in many ways. Therefore, reassuring your children about the severity of the symptoms is helpful. In this case, it is more common for them to have the flu.
- Focus on teaching safe practises: An important way to reassure kids is to emphasize the safety precautions that you are taking. Jamie Howard, PhD, a child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, notes, “Kids feel empowered when they know what to do to keep themselves safe.” Talk to your child about the safety measures they can take to keep themselves safe. Remind them to take care of themselves by washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when they come in from outside, before they eat, and after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or using the bathroom.
In times like these, when the state of the world has changed so suddenly, it becomes difficult for children to understand what’s going on. it is therefore important for parents to communicate with their children, inform them about the current situation and offer comfort and reassurance that things will go back to normal soon. There should always be an open communication between you and your child so that they also share their fears and concerns with you.
In a nutshell, kids look up to their parents in the time of need and therefore, it is your responsibility to keep them safe, healthy and informed at all times.
In these difficult times, we hope you and your family are healthy and taking as much precaution as you can. Stay safe and stay at home!