Advice for Parents – How to properly talk to your children about the corona virus
What is frightening for adults can be even more so for children. After all, from a certain age, they too notice what is reported in the media and discussed between adults. They also hear a lot from other children and so rumors and false or exaggerated descriptions of the situation can quickly arise, which can be scary for the little ones. Of course, this currently applies above all to the corona virus. It is therefore advisable 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 by the situation or just need a helpful guide.
Before following the advice for parents, make sure you are in a place where the children feel safe and comfortable. This is usually your own home and also with your grandparents.
Advice for parents – find out for yourself
Before you want to educate someone about something, you should of course be well informed yourself. Therefore, the first of our advice for parents is that you do some research yourself first. Dr. Teena Chopra, medical director of infection control and hospital hygiene at DMC Harper University Hospital says that “parents should inform their children that the virus is currently known to be known to be 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 asymptomatic without symptoms. It is helpful to compare this virus with those that the child already knows, such as the flu virus. According to Chopra, research is currently ongoing into how transmissible the virus is and what influences the severity of the course of the disease.
Gather knowledge for the children
Although the level of risk is still relatively difficult to assess, the probability of a coronavirus death is 2%. With 40,000 confirmed infections, this was 910 dead. In comparison, the probability was 10% for SARS in 2003 and about 33% for MERS-CoV in 2012.
It is very important that the parents themselves are calm and not scared. Children feel the insecurity of their parents and of course that also affects them. The parents unwittingly transmit their fear to them no matter how hard they try to hide them. Here are a few facts about the virus, formulated child-friendly:
Parents Info and Advice – What is Covid-19?
- Covid-19 is short for “coronavirus desease 2019th“. It is 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 of them will have more severe symptoms or will die. This includes some older people, as well as those who were sick before the infection.
- Doctors and health professionals are working hard to help people stay healthy and treat sick people appropriately.
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 resemble flu (fever, cough, and breathing problems). However, most of the infected have not become very ill and only a small group of people have had a more problematic course of the disease. According to previous observations, children do not get very sick. In comparison, adults show stronger symptoms, but in most cases they recover quickly.
- Those who feel sick are not automatically infected with the corona virus. There are many other pathogens that can be the cause. It is important, however, that an adult (teacher or parent) is informed so that a doctor can be consulted to help them get well again.
- If an infection (of any kind) is suspected, the general practitioner or another health facility should be contacted by phone. Then you will receive advice for parents, as well as information about which measures follow. Otherwise, you risk infecting others as well. However, there is no need to panic!
Advice for parents – Let the children tell the story first
Very little children who don't really understand anything need to be initiated. Instead, continue to attach great importance to proper hygiene. You can do that very well, especially with songs for washing your hands. Otherwise it is good if you find out at the beginning what your children actually know or have heard about the topic.
One of the most important pieces of advice for parents is that you shouldn't underestimate your children's level of knowledge. Don't assume that your child knows nothing about the topic or is not afraid just because they haven't talked about it yet. “Children usually talk about it at school,” says Haley Neidich, who works and practices as a psychotherapist in the field of mental illness, “and just because your child doesn't talk about it doesn't mean they don't think about it.”
While some children are very talkative and probably start chatting right away, others need some inspiration. Children can often open up much better when playing, storytelling, painting or other activities. If your children are worried or afraid of the virus, do not play down the feelings and do not ignore them. Help them understand that these feelings are normal. A better way to calm down is to make them feel that you are listening to them and that they are there for them.
Neidich says, “Help them understand the facts, instead of believing rumors about the virus, if it is possible with their level of development.”
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 corona virus. Just as you always want to know the truth, so do children. After all, knowledge makes you strong! At the same time, however, you also have to take care to intensify fears or worries in them. For this it is important that you explain the situation around the coronavirus child-friendly and according to the age, but also that you carefully observe the reactions.
Some parents make the mistake of speculating about children's questions that you cannot answer. Instead, use the situation to research the answers together. This way you can continue to provide information and at the same time you can explain to your children that not everything 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 right protective measures
Among other things, adults who are struggling with anxiety due to the coronavirus are advised to find out about the correct protective measures and to adhere to them. It gives you a sense of control. And explaining suitable protective measures to children is also one of our pieces of advice for parents. Explain to them
- that it is important to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, including between your fingers. They should be washed for at least 20 seconds under running water and with soap, ideally even 30.
- that if necessary you can also use a hand disinfectant with 60% alcohol if you don't have soap on hand (you can also make one yourself).
- that you have to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as this will allow the virus to enter your body. So the face is off limits!
- how to sneeze and cough properly (in the crook of the 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. 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 at home when you are sick. Just as you don't want to be infected, so don't others.
It is also very important that the children tell you immediately if you feel uncomfortable in any way.
Give you a sense of security
Reduce the amount of messages you consume with your children. Often children cannot separate the images from television from reality and let's be honest, the media can make things look or be worse than they are. This does not mean that you should withhold information on the subject from your children. But it should be in moderation. At the same time, you should keep the usual daily routine as much as possible. Then your child will feel safe and secure. But our advice for parents is not over yet:
If there are infections in your area, you must also inform your children about them. But don't panic! Children rarely get this disease and most sick people have only mild symptoms similar to those of a cold. While hospitalization (or quarantine at home) should be necessary, you can reassure your child that while it may be a boring (or scary) time, it is necessary to protect friends.
If despite child-rearing conversations your child does not cope with their anxiety and even develops phobias or panic attacks related to the coronavirus, “a therapist who will help you and your child to overcome these fears in a healthy way is probably the next step”, said Heidi McBain, licensed marriage counselor and family therapist. The main thing is that the family continues to talk openly about everything.
WHO side; UNICEF website; European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) website; current numbers of sick, healed and deceased worldwide here
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