How to explain to your children what is going on with the Coronavirus?
by Marisabelle Bonnici
At the moment everywhere you look you see news that will instill fear. We are noticing people over-stocking from supermarkets and pharmacies, every time we switch on the TV or log onto Facebook there is a new development with regards to the Coronavirus pandemic. Parents are understandably sharing these concerns, whether it is with their friends, other parents on Facebook groups or even with their children. Whilst speaking to several teachers I learnt that even at school, children are now exhibiting the same fears their parents might have.
Due to all of this children might have questions for their parents about what is going on at the moment. Below are some tips on how to respond to their questions and how to approach the subject that is Coronavirus.
1. Give them enough information
Young children have very active imaginations so ignoring what is going on and not talking and explaining enough can lead to them making up stories from what they overhear at school and at home. On the other end providing too much information may create extra alarm.
It is understandable that parents might feel confused about how to handle this situation. Our advice is to tell your child what he/she needs to understand about what corona is and what to do about it. Please do not quote number of deaths and newly diagnosed cases to your kids. Always check reliable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which offers a range of information about the virus. The World Health Organization's myth busters page can help you give correct answers to some surprising questions and misinformation that is spreading. All this misinformation is causing unnecessary panic.
It is also important to Follow your child's lead. Some kids may want to spend time talking. But if your kids don't seem interested or don't ask a lot of questions, that's OK. Do not force them. It is also good to agree on how to address their concerns.
2. Common questions your children may have about the coronavirus
After speaking to several mums and several schoolteachers I have come up with the most commonly asked questions by children about the Coronavirus.
- What is the coronavirus? The coronavirus is a type of germ that can make people feel sick just like when you get a cold or when your mummy/daddy/sibling/a child that they know had the flu. Some people might get a fever and a cough.
- Can we catch the coronavirus? The corona virus spreads like the flu. If someone who has the coronavirus sneezes or coughs, germs that are inside the body come outside of the body. When we sneeze, we get droplets in the air which are full of germs. These germs would have to travel to get inside another body, to make someone else sick. If you touch those germs that came out of the sneezes and coughs, and then touch your mouth, eyes, or nose those are places where the germs can get inside the body
- What can we do to prevent being infected by the coronavirus? If we are healthy and hygienic, we can prevent catching the coronavirus. When you sneeze or cough do so into your elbow so that the germs won't travel to other people. If you use tissues throw them away immediately. Wash your hands with soap and water at the same times you usually do, like after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose. When you wash your hands, remember to count slowly to 20. Practice this with your children by singing the ABC or happy birthday whilst washing hands so the children get used to taking their time and washing their hands properly. Show your children the proper technique of hand washing patiently. Try to keep your hands out of your mouth, eyes, and nose. Get enough sleep at night so that you are strong and can fight any virus. Eat your fruit and vegetables and drink your water so your body is strong and healthy.
- Should I wear a mask? Masks are for doctors and nurses to wear so they can help people who have the virus. You do not need to wear a mask. If any of us do get sick we will speak to the doctor and he or she will provide you with advice on best practices for your family. For the time being just keep washing your hands and taking care of your health.
- Can you die from the coronavirus? Most people who have caught the virus have not died. Doctors are working really hard to take care of people who are sick. They want to make sure everyone gets the help they need and to keep the virus from spreading. People who are infected or have been in contact with infected people are being held in quaratine for safety. There are a lot of scientists who are working hard on developing vaccines for this virus. This is why mummy and daddy give you vaccines regularly, so we take care of your health. Since there is also a lot of panic with regards the older generation make sure they get to speak to their grandparents regularly on the phone so they feel reassured that their family is safe.
3. Keep calm
Following the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic research showed that children's fear of the disease was significantly related to their parents' fear. This even resulted in a significant number of children suffering from anxiety disorders. Therefore, even if you feel stressed about COVID-19, you need to make sure you don't pass on this fear to your children. Show them you are calm. Don't be a carrier for fear. Teach your children to be kind and considerate. Not steal toilet paper, hand sanitizer and more from public places because of this same fear, buying the right products is enough. You need to limit their exposure to news about what is going on, do not spend hours on repeat watching news channels as this will also increase fear and anxiety in you and your young children. Perhaps read the newspaper instead of listening to news portals to keep a normal atmosphere in the house.
Remember, everyone is working hard to manage the virus. You can show your children that you, too, can continue to do what is important to you while practicing healthy behaviors and watching closely all the new updates being broadcasted regularely.
If you want to know more about the studies and treatments regarding the Coronavirus click here!
Learn more about who the virus is affecting most.