It’s almost impossible not to feel even just a little anxious or uncertain about what is happening in our world at present and it’s important to keep in mind how our kids must be feeling. They have likely heard people talking about Coronavirus but may not understand all the facts which could be making them feel overwhelmed or scared.
As parents and caregivers, it’s our role to ensure our kids have access to reliable information and make sure they feel comfortable to voice their questions and concerns. Here’s a few tips to help you start the conversation.
Tip 1: Start the conversation yourself
Begin with some gentle questions appropriate to your child’s age to find out what they already know. Schools have been keeping kids updated but they likely have seen the news and heard adult conversations so they may not have processed all the information correctly.
Check also if they’re experiencing or spreading stigma. Remind kids that Coronavirus has nothing to do with what someone looks like, where they’re from or what language they speak. If they’re experiencing or seeing bullying, assure them they can tell an adult they feel comfortable talking to without getting in trouble.
Tip 2: Offer comfort and honesty
Even if you’re feeling concerned, try and be calm and reassuring when discussing the Coronavirus with your kids – they’re often like little sponges and will take on any emotions you’re displaying. Be truthful, if you don’t know the answer, use it as a shared learning opportunity.
Use reliable links, like health.gov.au, for the most up-to-date and reliable information to ensure you have the latest facts. That way kids won’t see the scary headlines that can extrapolate facts.
The Australian Government, individual state Governments and the World Health Organisation are continually updating resources to provide the most up to date information available. Healthdirect also have a wide range of resources available for parents, including infographics and videos on several topics related to Coronavirus:
- Healthdirect; Childcare, school excursions and COVID-19
- Healthdirect; COVID-19 Coronavirus in pictures
Answer any questions they have, for example about possible school closures, but if the topic doesn’t come up there’s no need to raise it unless it happens.
Tip 3: Help them feel in control
Remind kids about good hygiene practices like covering their coughs and sneezes with the inside of their elbow, washing their hands and maintaining a safe distance from others where possible.
The internet is a great resource and there are several videos already online, depending on your child’s age. When you find a video that you think will help your kids, bookmark it for them. This way you’re only sharing the key information with them to help them not become overwhelmed.
Tip 4: Keep the conversation going
The conversation around Coronavirus shouldn’t be a one-off. Keep the conversation going as things develop and check in with your kids as things change. Before closing the discussion, try to read their body language, tone of voice and breathing to gauge any anxiety and encourage them to openly speak with you about how they are feeling.
Make it an opportunity to learn; not only about this one virus in particular but also about their immune system and all elements of staying healthy – from food choices to sleep and exercise.
Tip 5: Try to remain optimistic
The Coronavirus pandemic is a serious situation, but a positive frame of mind can help manage stress and anxiety. Try to focus on the good that is happening; for example, tell them about the health workers who are working tirelessly to help those who have become sick and the scientists who are working on a cure and a vaccine. If you see something pop up in your social media feeds, no matter how small, share these good news stories with your kids to foster a positive outlook.
Here to help
Phoenix Health is constantly monitoring the emerging situation and our priority remains supporting our members. You can read an update from Phoenix Health management, as well as useful resources and how to prevent the spread of Coronavirus here: Coronavirus: Keeping you informed.