Talking to Kids about Coronavirus!
It is important for adults to be able to give children clear and reliable information about COVID-19 to reduce anxiety and stress. Children (and adults) are likely to feel fear as they hear constant information and misinformation about the new virus from the news, friends, and social media.
I will share with you what I tell my children at this stage. You can use whatever bits you find helpful. I believe age-appropriate honesty is the best policy as it keeps everyone settled and increases feelings of openness and security. If the information needs to change, we can always share new information, but at present these are the best facts we have:
1. The world is experiencing a new virus this year called COVID-19. This is not unusual. Every year we get new strains of viruses/flus. This is another one.
2. COVID-19 is scaring people because we know nothing about a brand-new virus at the start, but we learn about them quickly and our doctors and scientists learn what to do about them as fast as they can.
3. Very few people have COVID-19 in Australia, but other parts of the world have seen more people infected. Over time, it is likely many more people will get this virus in Australia, just like many more people get the flu as Autumn and Winter go on. We should expect this, but not panic about it!
4. Kids are the safest group of people, because this virus seems to just give them a mild cough and cold (or no symptoms at all). Mum’s and Dad’s are pretty safe too, but we do need to be careful with grandparents and elderly friends as sicknesses can hit them much harder.
5. More than 80%-90% of people around the world who have been infected with this virus show only mild symptoms. Some people do get sicker, but 98% of all people with the virus end up OK again. The number of people who die from this virus is very few of those who actually catch it (and they are usually already ill, or quite elderly, so it’s hard for them to fight off any sickness).
6. A virus does not care where you come from or what colour your skin is, it affects everyone the exact same. Remind kids there is no race of people to blame or be afraid of when it comes to a virus!
7. Our goal is always to see as few people as possible get a sickness! That is why the government is asking some people to stay home if they have travelled to a place where there are more infections, or if they have been close to someone who is sick. It is just a way to reduce spreading this virus (or any other) quicker or further than needed. That’s why people should stay home if they have a cough or cold until they are all better.
8. You might hear the word “pandemic” in the news. Remember this does not change the facts about the virus at all. It does not make it “worse,” it just means it has turned up in most parts of the world. It means the world is working on it together!
As always, try to limit where your kids are getting their information. I recommend you do not leave the family TV on the news channel constantly because they do hear the scary information and often miss the real facts! Set the example by being calm, fact-based, and sticking to your normal positive family routines! JB. John Blythe Child Psychology Clinics - Blacktown - Macarthur - Nepean - (02) 9622 9610.