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for educators & parents

How To Talk To Your Child About Coronavirus

A pandemic can be a scary time for parents and children alike and with everything that’s going on, it’s only natural to feel a sense of unease.

But we need to remain calm because many young people are worried by what they’re hearing on the news, and the daily updates are alarming. To save them (and yourself) from unnecessary anxiety, there are a few simple things that you can say and do to help keep young people calm.

  • Listen to and take their concerns seriously, show empathy.  Tell them it is normal to feel concerned but help them see that the press only report on things that aren’t an everyday occurrence and can make events sound sensational and frightening.
  • Be aware of your own behaviour. It’s important that parents and carers understand the effect their own behaviour can have on young people. If you’re visibly upset or react in a way that suggests you’re fearful, they’ll take their cues from you. Just remember to stick to what we know about the outbreak.
Women sitting on windowsill
  • Tell them the facts. Ensure you’re armed with facts, this will help keep Coronavirus conversations calm, considered, and constructive.
  • Explain what efforts are being made to contain the virus. The authorities around the world are taking significant measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Travel in and out of the affected areas is being restricted, and scientists are working to develop a vaccine.

Most modern countries are prepared to deal with emergencies such as this, the UK is particularly well-placed, and the NHS is doing everything they can to treat patients.

Explain words to them that they may not have heard before:

  • Epidemic – a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.
  • Pandemic – an infectious disease which has spread throughout one country or globally.
  • Virus – Viruses are a type of germ. Viruses cause colds, chicken pox, measles, flu, and many other diseases. Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t work on viruses like they do on bacteria. Wash your hands often to help prevent the spread of viruses, especially before you eat and after you use the bathroom.
  • Coronavirus – According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coronaviruses are a group of viruses which produce symptoms similar to that of flu. Symptoms can range from a runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever, but can also escalate to pneumonia. Coronavirus gets its name from the word ‘corona’ which means crown in Latin.

Offer practical advice:
For the time being the easiest way to reduce the risk of being affected by flu viruses of any sort (including the common cold) is to be conscientious, considerate and follow sensible hygiene practice:

  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze (sneezing into the crook of your arm is better than sneezing into your hand if you don’t have a tissue at the ready)
  • Keep hands clean by washing them regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based gel
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with anyone displaying symptoms such as a fever or a cough

These are easy habits for young people to adopt and should help them feel as though they’re able to avoid getting a cold or flu.

Events like this can be very scary for young people so focus on the known facts rather than fixating on worst-case scenarios; this will allow your child to process the situation and keep it in perspective. However worried you may feel, do your best to keep your concerns to yourself and make sure your child understands that you will do everything in your power to keep them — and yourself — safe.

For the latest updates, check the NHS  and  GOV.UK.

You may be interested to know that Alicia is running some Online Talks for Parents and Teens in the coming weeks to help everyone during this very challenging time. You can find details and bookings here.

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