With the suspension of classes due to COVID-19 cases in the country, children might be feeling worried, afraid, and confused. Some of them might be wondering why graduation or moving up ceremonies have been postponed or why they aren’t allowed to go outside of the house. It’s very important to involve kids in conversations about the coronavirus to avoid fear and make them feel safe.
Here are some tips you can consider when talking to your children about COVID-19:
1. Share facts in a simple and calm manner.
Well-informed kids tend to feel less afraid. Before talking to your children, make sure that you have gathered factual information about COVID-19 and other relevant updates from reliable sources such as the Department of Health’s website. Share these information with your kids in a simple, calm, and engaging manner. Tailor your approach based on your child— think about whether more information makes them more or less anxious.
2. Make children feel safe.
Be honest and tell kids information to make them feel as safe as possible. Tell them what happens if they or others become ill. Encourage them to let you know if they feel sick and reassure them that you will be there to care for them.
3. Validate their feelings, while reassuring them.
Ask children how they feel and assure them that everyone is now working together to keep each other healthy. Children need to hear what needs to be done to help and to stop the virus. Tell your kids that you and other adults are doing everything in your power to take care of everyone including children.
4. Regularly check up on your children.
Aside from checking on the health status of your children, regularly have a conversation with them to ask what they know about COVID-19. Answer any question they might have and address any misinformation.
Remind them that they can talk to you in case they would want to clarify things they read or heard. Children and teenagers get information from different sources, some of which may not be trustworthy. If older children wish to watch the news, watch it together so you can answer any questions.
5. Children can contribute.
Remind them of what’s in their power—washing hands thoroughly and often, coughing and sneezing into their elbow, getting plenty of sleep, etc. Children deal with difficult situations better when they know how to contribute. Talk about what they can do to prevent getting ill and not pass the virus on to others. Now is the time to show solidarity and take care of one another.
6. Model good hygiene, and try to make it fun!
Children remember things easier when they are taught in a fun and creative manner. Help them remember the preventive measures against COVID-19 through song or dance like the #Covidance from the Department of Health. You can also teach them about the importance of washing their hands with soap through the ‘pepper experiment’ or as simple as singing their favorite song while washing their hands for 20 seconds!
For more information about COVID-19, visit the Department of Health’s website: www.doh.gov.ph/2019-nCoV