News of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is absolutely everywhere. From Social media to the school playground, children will likely know many different variations of what the virus is and what it can do, so what can we do as parents, to help them understand and not be afraid in a scary time?
Communication is key!
As with all things parenting, I always say that talking to your children about situations is incredibly important because when children are kept in the dark – they actually worry more. Sit down with them and chat about any worries or concerns they have and reassure them as much as you can. The facts they have from friends and social media are more often than not fiction – so it’s important to explain the real up-to-date news on the situation, without scaring the life out them.
Keep those lions of communication open – you never know how worried they actually might be. My ‘One Rubbish and Three Awesomes’ technique is a great way to get kids talking. Have a read of that here
Age appropriate advice
Use fact based information in a clear, easy to understand way according to their age or stage of development. For young children try something like ‘there’s a nasty bug which is making people poorly’ then go on to talk about keeping the bugs away by washing hands and to avoid hugging or kissing their friends and family for now.
If your little one asks about face masks, explain that the experts say they aren’t necessary for most people and not to worry.
If your children are CBBC fans, Dr Xand and Dr Chris have answered some questions about coronavirus here:
Older children can have more factual information without overloading then with too much scariness. I know my two are super-interested in science so it’s actually a great way to introduce a discussion about vaccinations, illnesses and how amazing scientists discovered vaccines and cures to illnesses in the past and continue to do so today.
Here’s some great books for that (click the links to purchase.)
Routine is the magic key!
I know I say this phrase rather a lot in my books – but kids thrive on routine, so if their daily routine changes – try and install a similar routine into your days at home. Some schools will set homework or offer ‘google classroom’ to continue studies. If they don’t – educational company has launched a “Learn at Home” website that has daily courses for students.
Carry on their normal studies as much as possible so that when they eventually do go back to school, they won’t have fallen too far behind or got too much out of the daily study routine. Don’t make it all work and no play though – make the most of this unexpected time together and play games, watch movies and do something art and crafty together.
Remember that personal space is important too – so ensure you all get some time on your own at some point. If you have a partner – take shifts so that you don’t end up feeling totally overwhelmed and with cabin fever.
Talk about the importance of washing hands
Get your little loves into a brilliant hand washing routine and keep those good habits going. Get them to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the length of two “Happy Birthday” songs) when they come in from outside, before they eat, and after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or using the bathroom – it’s a good routine to get into and will last them a lifetime – not just while this awful virus is around.
Here’s a great little video explaining how soap works against germs – I’ve seen various versions of this on lots of teacher forums, but love the Tom fletcher version!
Here’s some fun hand washing videos if you’re sick of the old ‘Happy birthday’ song already!
For little ones who love Mr Tumble:
For those who love The Wiggles:
For older kids here’s a cool hand-washing dance challenge!
Finally, if you do have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or indeed feel unwell – here are the latest (March 17th 2020) guidelines in the UK for that.