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Advice For Parents – How To Talk To Your Children About Coronavirus Correctly

What is terrifying to adults can be even more so to children. After all, from a certain age onwards, they too notice what is reported in the media and discussed between adults. They also hear a lot from other children and this can quickly lead to rumors and false or exaggerated descriptions of the situation, which can be frightening for the little ones. Of course, this is currently especially true for the coronavirus. It therefore makes sense to have an age-appropriate conversation with the children. But how exactly should that be done? We have some advice for parents who are a little overwhelmed with the situation or just need a helpful guide.

Advice to parents. how to overcome fears of coronavirus and help children with it

Before following the advice to parents, make sure you are in a place where the children can feel safe and comfortable. Usually this is your own home and that of your grandparents too.

Advice to Parents – Educate Yourself

Advice to Parents - You should educate yourself before speaking to children

Before you want to educate someone about something, you should of course be well informed yourself. Therefore the first of our advice for parents that you do a little research yourself first. Dr. Teena Chopra, Director of Infection Control and Hospital Hygiene at DMC Harper University Hospital says that “Parents should inform their children that what is currently known about the virus is that it is a respiratory virus that, like other viruses of this type, Causes pneumonia. “

She also says that the disease can cause mild to severe symptoms, but it can also be symptomatic (asymptomatic). It is helpful to compare this virus with those that the child already knows, such as the flu virus. According to Chopra, research is still being conducted into how transmissible the virus is and what influences the severity of the course of the disease.

Gather knowledge for the children

What is Covid-19 declared child-friendly in order to explain it to the children

The risk level is still relatively difficult to assess, but the probability of a death from the coronavirus is 2%. Out of 40,000 confirmed infections, that meant 910 deaths. In comparison, the probability of SARS in 2003 was 10% and of MERS-CoV in 2012 about 33%.

It is very important that the parents themselves are calm and not frightened. Children feel their parents’ insecurity and of course that affects them too. Parents inadvertently pass on their fear to them, no matter how hard they try to hide it. Here are a few facts about the virus, formulated in a child-friendly way:

Info and advice for parents – what is Covid-19?

  • Covid-19 is the abbreviation for “coronavirus desease 2019th“. It’s a new virus that doctors and scientists are still researching.
  • Many people have contracted the virus, but doctors and scientists believe that most will recover. Above all, this includes children. However, some will have more severe symptoms or even die. This includes some elderly people as well as those who were sick before the infection.
  • Doctors and health professionals work hard to help people stay healthy and adequately treat those who are sick.

Useful information and advice for parents - what to do if you get sick yourself

Advice for Parents – What Happens If You Get Sick yourself?

  • The symptoms that Covid-19 triggers vary from person to person. In some people, they are similar to those of the flu (fever, cough, and difficulty breathing). Most infected people did not get very sick, however, and only a small group of people had the disease progression more problematic. According to previous observations, children do not get very sick. In comparison, adults have more severe symptoms, but in most cases they will recover quickly.
  • Anyone who feels sick is not automatically infected with the coronavirus. There are many other pathogens that can be the cause. It is important, however, that an adult is informed about this (teacher or parent) so that a doctor can be consulted who can help to get well again.
  • If you suspect an infection (of any kind), your family doctor or another healthcare facility should be contacted by telephone. You will then receive advice for parents as well as information on what action to take. Otherwise, you risk infecting others too. However, there is no need to panic!

Advice for Parents – First, let the children talk about it themselves

Advice to Parents - Let children talk first to find out what they already know

You don’t necessarily need to initiate very young children who don’t really understand anything yet. Instead, continue to attach great importance to proper hygiene. You can do this very well, especially with songs for washing your hands. Otherwise, it is good if you find out at the beginning what your children actually already know or have heard about the topic.

One of the most important pieces of advice to parents is that you shouldn’t underestimate your children’s level of knowledge. Don’t assume that your child doesn’t know anything about the topic or isn’t afraid just because they haven’t talked about it before. “Usually children talk about it at school,” says Haley Neidich, a mental health professional and practicing psychotherapist, “and just because your child doesn’t talk about it doesn’t mean they don’t think about it.”

Some children need distraction to encourage them to talk

While some children are very talkative and likely to chat right away, others need some stimulation. When playing, storytelling, painting, or doing other things, children can often open up much more easily. If your children are worried or afraid about the virus, do not downplay or ignore their feelings. Help them understand that these feelings are normal. A better way to calm down is to make them feel like you are listening to them and that you are there for them.

Neidich says, “Help them understand the facts instead of believing rumors about the virus, if that is possible in relation to their level of development.”

be honest

Be honest with the children and work together to find answers you don't know

It is very important that you do not lie to the children. This is one of those pieces of advice for parents that applies to all situations and not just the coronavirus. Just as you always want to know the truth, so do children also have a right to it. After all, knowledge makes you strong! At the same time, however, you also need to be careful not to increase their fears or worries. To do this, it is important that you explain the situation to the coronavirus in a child-friendly manner and according to your age, but also that you carefully monitor the reactions.

Advice for parents on talking to children about Covid-19 - looking for information together

Some parents make the mistake of guessing about questions from children that you cannot answer. Instead, use the situation to research the answers together. In this way, you can also inform your children straight away and at the same time explain to your children that not everything that is on the Internet is correct and truthful. Find reliable answers to your questions together. Suitable websites are, for example, those of the WHO (World Health Organization) or UNICEF.

Show the children the correct protective measures

Educate children about protective measures so that they can feel in control

Adults struggling with fear due to the coronavirus are advised, among other things, to find out about the correct protective measures and to comply with them. It gives you a sense of control. And explaining appropriate protective measures to the children is also one of our advice to parents. Explain to them,

  • that it is important to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, including between your fingers. They should be washed with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds, and even better for 30 seconds.
  • that you can use a hand disinfectant with 60% alcohol if you don’t have soap on hand (you can also make some yourself).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as this will allow the viruses to get into the body. So the face is taboo!

Advice for Parents - How to Explain the New Coronavirus to Your Children

  • how to sneeze and cough properly (in the crook of your arm or in a handkerchief). If you use a handkerchief, it must be thrown in the trash immediately.
  • that you also have to clean surfaces at home. The children can help with this. The desk, doorknobs, light switches or the remote control are things that are touched frequently and should be cleaned regularly.
  • that you have to keep a certain distance from people with symptoms.
  • that you should stay home when you are sick. Just as you don’t want to be infected, others don’t either.

It is also very important that the children tell you immediately if you feel uncomfortable in any way.

Give you a sense of security

Parents should make children feel safe and talk about anything

Reduce the amount of messages you consume with your children. Often children cannot separate the pictures from television from reality and let’s be honest, in the media some things can look or be presented worse than they are. This is not to say that you should withhold information on the subject from your children. But it should be in moderation. At the same time, you should stick to the usual daily routine as much as possible. Then your child will feel safe and secure. But our advice for parents doesn’t stop there:

Tips for families with children about the epidemic and Covid-19

If there is an infection in your area, you must also inform your children about it. Don’t panic though! Children rarely get this disease, and most sick people have mild symptoms similar to those of a cold. Even if hospitalization (or home quarantine) is necessary, you can reassure your child that while it may be a boring (or scary) time, it is necessary to keep friends safe.

If your child cannot overcome his or her fear despite educational discussions and even develops phobias or panic attacks with regard to the coronavirus, “a therapist who can help you and your child to overcome these fears in a healthy way is probably the next step”, says Heidi McBain, licensed marriage counselor and family therapist. The main thing is that everything in the family continues to be openly talked about.

Side of the WHO; side of UNICEF; Website of the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC); Current numbers of sick, cured and deceased worldwide here