how to talk to children about covid-19
tips for parents and adults
When many adults are still trying to come to terms with and understand the implications of Corona Virus it is not surprising that our children are also struggling.
Already, we are reading reports in the press about tantrums, poor behaviour and disturbed sleep and some may put this down to boredom or a lack of routine.
In reality, these symptoms can also be indicators of the fact that our children are feeling anxious and struggling to cope with the rapidly changing world around them. In the future we are likely to see an increase in the number of children suffering with PTSD, depression and anxiety related issues.
Some may be old enough to ask questions, but others may not have the vocabulary or even the ability to process what they are feeling. It is down to parents and adults to figure out the best way to talk to their children to enable them to gain an understanding of what is happening and help them to cope.
So, how can we support our Children when they ask us questions about Corona Virus?
Children will inevitably share the same concerns and anxieties that adults do during this epidemic and it is important that parents and families are able to recognise this and be able to offer support. Here are our top six guidelines to supporting them:
1. Create Time and Space to Talk
Create a time or space each day where devices are put away and you can focus on chatting to your children.
2. Understanding Emotions
Enabling your child to understand what emotion they are feeling is important if they are to communicate how they feel in the future.
Observe your child's emotions and discuss what you observe to enable them to make a connection between the emotion and the feeling they have: e.g. “excited” when they have chocolate cake, or “sad” if they can't see their friends.
3. Demonstrate Love and Security
Demonstrate to your child that they are loved and that there are lots of qualified experts around to support us: e.g. Doctors, Scientists, Teachers and Parents.
Ensure they know who the trusted adults are that they can go to if they want to talk or ask questions, and if they feel scared it doesn’t necessarily mean that bad things will happen.
4. Limit the Amount of News
The National News can increase anxiety and fear in all of us and children are also impacted by this. Try to limit what they are exposed to.
5. Stay Positive
Try to point out the good things that are happening at this time to balance out the impact of some of the negatives. Captain Tom Moore is a great example to use. Emphasizing how this has bought people together to support each other. Try to remain upbeat and positive as much as possible around your children.
6. Be Honest
Be honest and answer your children questions, but in a simplistic easy to understand way that is appropriate to their age. Don’t over-complicate or over-dramatise.
Using things that they understand as metaphors is sometimes a good way. Particularly things that occur in nature or in story books. Making your answers relatable will aid understanding.