The news about the COVID 19 pandemic is everywhere: from the front pages of newspapers and headlines on news channels, to even our daily conversations at our homes. Constant exposure to such updates can leave us overwhelmed. Children especially can begin to feel increasingly anxious and confused since their daily routines have been completely disrupted due to the current state of lockdown.
So, how can parents help their kids manage their fears, while at the same time be aware and alert themselves? As a parent or guardian, you will want to make sure that your children get answers to all their questions and doubts regarding coronavirus. Speaking to them can help clear their doubts, help them understand what is happening as well as make them feel safe and cope with the current situation.
Here are a few tips which can help you talk to children regarding COVID 19:
1. Don’t be afraid to discuss
Most children will have already heard about COVID 19 from TV as well as seen people wearing face masks. Therefore, not talking to them will make them even more confused. Ask them what they’ve heard about coronavirus and if they have any questions or doubts regarding this. This will help you understand how much they know as well as if they have any wrong information.
2. Help them feel safe but be truthful
Explain things to them in a calm and reassuring way. Don’t offer more information than what they ask about. If they ask something that you don’t know the answer to, let them know about it. If they require information (especially older children), help them get access to age-appropriate content so that they don’t end up watching the news which scares them.
3. Emphasize on personal hygiene and good practices
Teach children that following good habits like regularly washing their hands, covering their mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing, eating healthy food, getting proper sleep can help them stay in good health and even help in avoiding the spread of the infection to others.
4. Try and share positive developments
Watching news such as the number of infected cases or even the death rates worldwide can frighten children. Younger children may feel reassured if you let them know that doctors and nurses in hospitals are treating and taking care of people who get sick. Older children may also feel comforted by knowing that scientists and researchers are working on a vaccine for COVID 19. Watch the news with your children so that you are aware and can filter what kind of information they are obtaining.
5. Stay in touch with family and friends
Children tend to worry more about their family and friends than themselves. If they hear that older adults are more likely to fall sick, they may get worried about their grandparents. Help them call or video call their grandparents and relatives to reassure them that they are in good health. Helping them connect virtually with their friends will make them feel a sense of normalcy.
What can I do to help my kids cope with the current situation? Here are some steps for you:
1. Be calm
Children might feel anxious and upset due to the lockdown and the fact that they have to be constantly indoors. Remind them that it is alright to be upset right now and encourage a hopeful outlook for the future.
2. Stick to routines
Stick to or create new family routines, such as learning or studying, mealtimes, chores, playtimes and bedtimes. This can help children feel in control of the situation.
3. Limit news time
There may be times of constant news about COVID-19 from all types of media that may heighten fears about the disease. Limit reading, hearing or watching the news. Also, limit social media use that may expose your children to rumours and false information. Be cautious about discussing the news and your fears in front of your children.
4. Enjoy virtual socializing
Connect with friends and family members using phone and video calls. This can help them avoid feeling isolated and can build and maintain relationships.
5. Seek advice if necessary
If you observe persistent problems with your child’s sleep patterns, eating habits or difficulty concentrating on typical tasks, or if your children have a persistent sense of hopelessness, excessive sadness or overwhelming worry, contact your doctor for advice.
It is important to continue having open communication with your family. If your child is afraid or anxious, you don’t want them to keep it to themselves. While we don’t know when these stressful times will end, we can definitely offer comfort and reassurance to our children, discuss factual information and encourage a healthy dialogue about their feelings.
Disclaimer: The above information has been prepared by a qualified medical professional and may not represent the practices followed universally. The suggestions listed in this article constitute relatively common advice given to patients, and since every patient is different, you are advised to consult your physician, if in doubt, before acting upon this information. Lupin Limited has only facilitated the distribution of this information to you in the interest of patient education and welfare.