How to talk to your children about Coronavirus

Mar 17, 2020 | Tips & Advice

Parents across the globe are no doubt all feeling a degree of stress, fear or anxiety about the Coronavirus disease spreading throughout the community and throughout our media. It’s highly likely these emotions are being passed onto your children too, especially if they find it difficult to understand what is going on, what their parents and other adults are talking about, and why there is no food or toilet paper on the shelves at the supermarket.

To help parents across Australia, we’ve put together 5 simple tips on what we can do to help our children to understand and cope with these testing times.

1.      Make additional time to play with and be with your child.

They will not only positively respond to and value the quality time they spend with you, but they will also feel relaxed and comfortable. Your child may ask questions and share their emotions or worries with you, and you’ll have a perfect opportunity to have a positive and reassuring discussion within a relaxed environment.

  • Open a box of building blocks or LEGO to play with together,
  • Get out some colouring-in books or activities to complete together, or even
  • Grab some blank paper or cardboard and coloured pencils and draw together.

2.      Ask open questions, listen and reassure.

Invite your child to talk about the issue. Discover how much they might already know about what is going on and listen to everything they have to say. Be sure to not minimize or avoid their concerns. Rather, acknowledge their feelings and assure them that it’s natural to feel scared about these things. Demonstrate that you’re listening by giving them your full attention, and make sure they understand that they can talk to you whenever they like.

If your child is too young or hasn’t heard about the outbreak, you may not need to raise the issue. However, take the chance to remind them about good hygiene practices without introducing new fears, and encourage them to talk to you whenever they like.

3.      Be Honest & explain what is occurring in a child-friendly way

Children have a right to truthful information about what’s going on in the world, but we also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions, and be sensitive to their levels of anxiety.

If you can’t answer their questions, don’t guess. Use it as an opportunity to explore the answers together. Websites of international organisations like UNICEF and the World Health Organisation are great sources of information. Explain that some information online isn’t accurate and that it’s best to trust the experts.

Remind your children that they are not likely to catch the disease, that most people who do have coronavirus don’t get very sick, and that lots of adults are working hard to keep your family safe.

If your child does feel unwell, explain that they have to stay at home/at the hospital because it is safer for them and their friends. Reassure them that you know it is hard (maybe scary or even boring) at times, but that following the rules will help keep everyone safe.

Share stories of health workers, scientists and doctors, among others, who are working to stop the outbreak and keep the community safe. It can be a big comfort to know that compassionate people are taking action.

4.      Demonstrate good hygiene & protection measures

Teaching children positive preventative measures and providing them with a sense of control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety. Try to make these preventative measures fun and positive and explain to your children how it’s easy to keep these germs at bay.

  • Demonstrate how to wash their hands really well (The Wiggles can help)
  • Encourage regular handwashing with soap and water,
  • Encourage the regular use of hand sanitizer,
  • Show children how to cover a cough and catch a sneeze with their elbow,
  • Explain the importance of throwing tissues in the bin, and
  • Explain it’s best not to get too close to people who might be unwell.

5.      Be mindful of the adult conversations around them.

Children are very adept to the conversations, tones, body language and emotions around them.  If children are seeing lots of troubling images on TV or online or experiencing panic or fear within the adults around them, it could feel like the crisis is around them and they are in imminent danger. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of what your children may be experiencing in the conversations or images around them.

  • Limit news coverage and, if appropriate, watch the news with your child so you can answer any questions they may have and reassure them they are safe.
  • Look after yourself. You’ll be able to help your kids better if you’re coping too. Children will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know you’re calm and in control.
  • If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people in your community. Make some time to do things that help you relax and recuperate.
  • We recommend you keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible. They will help children feel safe and secure.

Need assistance in talking to your child about Coronavirus?

Our team of experienced Educators, Teachers, Centre Managers and staff are here to assist all members of the Sunkids family. Next time you’re at the centre, feel free to ask them for any assistance in helping your child through this situation. Together, we can help our children understand and cope.

Further information regarding Coronavirus

For additional information regarding Novel Coronavirus (COID-19), we encourage you to only visit trusted sources.

Queensland Department of Health – https://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/14/217/838/novel-coronavirus

Australian Government Department of Health – https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

You can also call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

If you have concerns about your or your child’s health, speak to your doctor. If you are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus, call ahead first.

If you are having a medical emergency, please call 000