- Be Available
- Developmental Approach
- Overcome your Anxiety
- Be Honest
- Hygiene and Social Distancing
- Being Kind
- Educating them about Doctors and Scientists
- Calm their Fears
Depending on his or her age, your child will have lots of questions about the COVID-19 outbreak. Even younger ones might ask questions about why they are not going to school, why they can’t visit relatives or play outside with their friends. As adults, it is our responsibility to talk to children about the coronavirus and explain what is going on. However, we need to bring up the epidemic in a way that is reassuring, to minimise their anxiety and fear. We suggest that you have an informal coronavirus awareness session with your children to make sure they are no misinformed or in fear.
How to Talk to Children about the Coronavirus Threat
Adults, to some degree, have access to scientific information about the epidemic. For children, it is perhaps even more difficult to comprehend this complex situation and the sudden change in their routine. They miss going to school, little outdoor activity is allowed and perhaps they are also missing their friends.
Therefore, it is vital that parents or guardians talk to children about the coronavirus threat in the UAE in a calm manner to mitigate any anxiety. Here, we shall look at some of the best ways to explain the situation as outlined by field experts, so you can go through the coronavirus awareness session.
Children, especially younger ones, may not be aware of the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak. There is a sudden change in their life and a lot more time is being spent at home, which might make them restless. Hence, you will have to give them a lot more time and be available. Play with them, help them with distance learning and talk to children about the coronavirus. Even if the child is unaware, this is a time to bond. The sudden change in schedule might confuse your little one. So just the thought of you being there would be comforting.
On that note, check for any warning signs and symptoms as frequently as you can. Encourage your kid to talk to you if they have a runny nose or itchy throat.
Using a Developmental Approach
Depending upon their age, a child might have some information about the virus. But their understanding might be limited. Hence, it is your job to find out all that they know casually. This is important as you don’t want them to be misinformed and have fears based on what they may have encountered from unreliable sources. Ask simple questions in a friendly manner, take cues from their responses and allow them to clear any queries that they might have.
Drawing, storytelling and other engaging activities could be used as a tool to explain the situation. Older children can be introduced to Wealth Health Organisation (WHO) and other authentic health-related websites. Reading together can help you explain coronavirus to children and also reinforce the precautionary measures.
Overcome your own anxiety
Children expect adults to have answers to all their questions. More importantly, when scared or sad, they want to be comforted. That is the role of an adult. However, the current situation can be a bit daunting for adults too.
When you decide to talk to children about the coronavirus, it is important to reassure them. It would not be possible if you are equally anxious. Reacting negatively or with despair to the news, can give the children the wrong message. If need be, you could also ask your partner or family member to explain coronavirus to children.
Be honest when you talk to children about the coronavirus
Given the current situation, we don’t have many answers. However, that doesn’t mean we can brush the issue under the carpet or make things up. When trying to explain coronavirus to children, honesty is important. If there are any questions which you cannot answer, explain why it is so in simple terms. Tell them it is fine and natural to feel a bit scared.
Teaching hygiene and social distancing
The best way to avoid contracting the coronavirus is to regularly wash your hands. Similarly, you should avoid touching your face. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Teach your children to wash their hands in a fun way. There are a plethora of online videos with cartoons and even real animals showing us the way. Make use of these videos to get your child really engaged. Do it repeatedly until it becomes a habit. Also, they need to be taught the right way to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing.
You will have to teach social distancing to children as well. It might be against their own instincts but there is a need to reinforce this idea.
Being kind to everyone
Well, this is sage advice at any time.
Nonetheless, it needs reinforcement in the present scenario. Kids can be easily influenced by the images they see on the media. Sadly, there have been cases of coronavirus bullying and it is important to stop that stigma.
When you talk to children about the coronavirus, you should also explain that this virus can affect anyone and it is no one’s fault. They shouldn’t bully anyone. Teach them to turn to a trusted adult in they encounter such behaviour.
When you teach social distancing to children emphasise that it is a short-term measure. It is only precautionary, so children are not frightened by those they don’t know.
Calm their fears
When you talk to children about the coronavirus, it is important to address any immediate fears. Before you complete your conversation, let them know that things are under control. Remind them that they can turn to you at any moment with any questions or in case they feel sick.
Besides the apparent and immediate impact of coronavirus, there will be far-reaching consequences to this outbreak. Experts around the world have already started talking about how detrimental this virus would be on people’s mental health. Especially for children, it could be a confusing and frightening time. This could leave a lasting impact on their future. By giving them the information that they need with a friendly coronavirus awareness session, you can help to reduce this impact.
Make sure you also educate your kids about the steps taken by the UAE Government for coronavirus pandemic. Help them understand how to be responsible during the coronavirus outbreak and act as per the directions of the government.
And most importantly, make sure you get updates about coronavirus in the UAE from authentic sources only. Go the extra mile because it is about your own and your loved ones’ safety.
Visit MyBayut to read all about the impact of coronavirus in the UAE.