Little minds are often the most curious – but how do we talk to kids about coronavirus, when we can barely navigate it ourselves?
“Why are the toilet paper shelves empty?”
“Why do we have to stay home?”
“Why can’t we see Grandma and Grandpa?”
Even at the best of times, convincing your child that it’s necessary to wash their hands can be quite the mammoth task. One question is usually followed by six more. However, if New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is making the effort to communicate with kids via a national press conference, then we of course must be ready to do the same.
Although it’s no doubt a daunting topic to try and cover, here’s some tips on how to talk to kids about coronavirus and the global effects of Covid-19.
Find Out What Your Child Knows Already
Children are perceptive little beings. They may have already heard the words “Covid-19” or “Coronavirus” from listening to the news in passing, their friends at the playground, or even from you (when you didn’t think that they were listening).
“Do you have any questions about the new sickness going around, you might have heard the grown ups talking about it” is a great place to start – and also a chance to correct any misinformation. Let your kids lead the discussion, and offer age appropriate responses to any questions that they may have.
Be Honest, But Sensitive
Children have a right to access information about the world around them, but how you present the facts is crucial. Depending on the age of your child, explain the symptoms and how coronavirus works. This way, your child knows how to spot the signs and communicate with you if they feel sick.
It’s important for you to stay calm, and to provide reassurance. Little people may not be able to tell the difference between what’s on the television screen compared to their own reality, so it’s up to you to make them feel safe.
Enable Kids To Feel In Control
Teach your children that washing your hands and getting a good night’s sleep are important choices to staying healthy – and it’s up to them to take charge. “Coronavirus Explained For Kids” by Doctor Michelle Dickinson has been a worldwide hit, and helps to explain the science behind washing your hands.
If your kids are feeling frustrated or stressed out by the global situation, that’s okay too. They feel the same emotions as adults, only they’re generally bigger and harder to define to another person i.e. the nearest grown up. Give them space to voice their concerns and emotions, and offer insights into the medical professions – doctors and nurses are superheroes, and are keeping everyone safe.
The Bottom Line?
How to talk to kids about coronavirus will inevitably vary depending on your child’s age, including where you live, their age and any other health conditions. This ABC article also provides some useful tips on how to communicate with children regarding Covid-19.
If you or your child are displaying the symptoms of the common cold or flu, it might be worth considering a Covid-19 test just to be safe. Referrals can be obtained through online telehealth services like 13 Doctor, all from the comfort of your own home.