by Dr Karen Phillip
Helping your child to feel safe and reassured during this concerning COVID-19 time is a must for every parent. There are steps to follow to help your children feel safe, lowering the alarm and explaining what is occurring at an appropriate age level.
- Ask the child what they believe they know. Asking and listening can allow you to correct or authenticate the information as you understand it. Asking questions about what kids and teachers at school are saying and respond appropriately to lower their concerns. Ensure you do not lead or plant fear in your child’s mind as this can escalate their anxiety. Tips on how to avoid this quandary are in the new Communication Harmony book.
- Follow the lead of your child. Some children want to talk about the virus situation; others do not. Read your child, you know them better than anyone. If you feel they are shutting down due to fear, reassure them and prompt questions form them. If your child seems uninterested, may depend on age, let them know you are there to answer any question they may have.
- Speak calmly and reassuring. Children mimic parents’ emotions; therefore, speaking calmly is essential. Be light-hearted, advising them this virus will pass in a few weeks, similar to the flu virus every year that hits some people. Assure them children are not really affected, maybe slight cold symptoms.
- Turn off the news. News sensationalises everything, the wording is extreme for effect and visual content dramatised. Parents need to speak attentively and be guided by your child’s responses and concerns. The new Communication Harmony book provides numerous tips on how to achieve this quickly, which is a timely release indeed.
- Do not take children to the supermarket. When kids see pandemonium and empty shelves, they may become anxious. Explain people panic as it gives them a sense of control and often a far over-reaction. Assure them you have all you need and choose alternatives where required.
- Help your kids feel in control. Teach your children the steps to remain healthy. Good restful sleep to help their body recharge, eating healthy foods, and getting outside in the sunshine to play are all necessary to keep bodies healthy. Follow a routine of handwashing and wiping down surfaces around the home.
- Explaining a death from the virus. Children often fear not their demise, but that of their parents and grandparents. While some older people have fallen victim to the virus, many were unwell. Explain you are all healthy and taking steps to prevent any illness. Of course, if anyone has the virus explaining it is like a cold or flu should be enough information.
- Have children contact family members living away. To help alleviate any anxiety, call or Skype grandparents and family members so children can speak or see them. Reassurance is essential for a child to feel safe.
- Children can react to their parents’ anxiety. When parents remain calm, and in control, this will flow onto the children. While COVID-19 is serious, regard it as a temporary annoyance that will pass, especially if good healthy living and cleaning are followed. Following the tips in Communication Harmony can help reduce any drama and provide excellent advice on how to speak to your children to lower confusion and concern.
- You can encourage your children to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to remain healthy. Steps to follow includes:
- Wash hands often using soap and water
- Avoid being near people who are sick
- Let them see you are cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces
- Wash clothes in warm water and finish off in dryer to kill any virus germs
- Wash toys in warm water daily and encourage your children to undertake this task as it provides more certainty for them they are proactively taking preventative steps
You can find additional information on preventing COVID-19 at Prevention for 2019
Any parent wanting to speak the right way to their child, please read Communication Harmony to help get the message across clearly and concisely. An essential guide to eliminate any drama with helping to create harmony and a feeling of safety and security.