It is very easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that is going on with the coronavirus disease but it is also understandable that children may be feeling confused and anxious too.
Children may find it hard to understand what they are seeing on the TV or hearing around them which can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness and stress and therefore it is important to have open and supportive discussions with your children.
1) Be honest and explain what is going in in a child friendly way
Children have the right to know what is going on in the world they live in but we also have a responsibility to protect them from unnecessary distress. Make sure you use age-appropriate language, watch their body language and make sure you are sensitive and aware to their level of anxiety. If they ask you a question that you do not know then use it as an opportunity to look together using reliable sources such as the World Health Organization.
2) Ask open questions and listen
Ask your child if they would like to sit and talk about the issue, what they know about it and any concerns they have. If they are very young, you may not need to discuss it with them just talk to them about good hygiene practices.
The most important thing is to acknowledge their feelings and make sure they understand that they can talk to their teachers and you whenever they like.
3) Teach and encourage good hygiene practices
One of the best ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus and any other disease is to ensure regular hand washing. Make this a fun and engaging activity with your child by singing a song or doing a dance. Show them how to wash their hands properly and how to cover a cough or sneeze with their elbow and ask them to tell you if they feel they have a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing.
4. Keep Positive
It is important to show children that people are helping each other with acts of kindness and generosity. Share stories about young people, health workers and the general public who are working hard to stop the outbreak and keep everyone safe.
7. Make sure you are taking care of your own health
Please remember that you will be able to help your children better if you are well and coping too. Children pick up on your stress and anxiety and it helps them to know you are calm and controlled.
If you're feeling stressed make sure you take some time out for yourself and reach out to your family or friends.