PROVIDE A SAFE SPACE FOR AN OPEN DISCUSSION
Invite your child to talk about their feelings regarding Coronavirus allow them to talk freely. If the child is younger, drawing, stories and other activities may help to open up a discussion. Find out how much they already know by asking open-ended questions. Don't offer more detail than your child is interested in, instead follow their lead by listening … let them share their fears and in return offer gentle reassurance.
BE TRUTHFUL IN A CHILD-FRIENDLY WAY
Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. If you can’t answer their questions, don’t guess, instead use it as an opportunity to explore the answers together. Put news stories in context and explain how some information online isn’t accurate.
WHEN ANXIETY ATTACKS
Let your kids know that it's common to feel stressed and fearful about what’s going on but once the crisis is over, things will begin to feel normal again even if things are different. Recognising these feelings will help children build resilience. You can help your children cope with the stress by making opportunities for them to play and relax. Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before they go to sleep, or help create new ones in a new environment.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF AND OTHERS
One of the best ways to keep children safe from Coronavirus and other diseases is to simply encourage regular hand-washing. Explain the practice of social distancing and why it’s best not to get too close to people. Check-in with their health … ask them to tell you if they start to feel like they have a fever, cough or are having difficulty breathing. It’s important for children to know that people are helping each other during this time with acts of kindness and generosity so share some “good news” stories also. Let them call older relatives to help them feel reassured about loved ones if needed.
IT’S A WRAP
As your conversation wraps up, don’t leave children in a state of distress. Remind your children that you care, you’re listening and that they can come to you at any time. Suggest activities they can do that will help when they feel stressed and map out a plan together.
DOWNLOAD: PDF Information Sheet
References: Thank you to UNICEF & KIDSHEALTH.ORG for help with this information.