By April Murphy
Australian’s are terrified, unsettled and confused. Among them are the children. How are the little ones feeling?
Child development experts from The University of South Australia say adults need to be increasingly mindful of their own reactions to Covid-19. The children’s lives have dramatically changed and, explaining to them why, is important.
Strategies to prevent the virus from spreading have been implemented into schools for some time now. Social distance, hand sanitizing, no touching, cancelled events and many other protocols, have been imposed on children of Australia, but do they understand why?
“Children need calm and stable parents and teachers, especially in uncertain times. There’s no doubt, we’re all feeling a bit unsure at the moment, but panicking and worrying in front of your kids will not improve the situation” childhood education expert, Uni SA’s Associate Professor Victoria Whitington says.
Families could talk together about what they might do as a family to support each other – so that children are team members – things such as working out fun activities for their families to do at home, contributing to house cleaning, or reminding the family about handwashing and social distancing when shopping.
The Professor also recommends that parents keep the information on Covid-19, light and age-appropriate. “Young children, in particular, are unlikely to be able to understand what’s going on and how it will affect them, their family and their friends,” says Educational psychology and child protection expert, UniSA’s Dr Lesley-anne Ey.
Raisingchildren.net.au is an informative resource to assist parents in techniques on how to talk to your children about the current pandemic.
The website advises that talking to your child about Covid-19 can help your child understand and cope with what’s going on. They also propose the following tips, to assist you when talking to your children about the virus:
• Find out what your child knows. It’s a good idea to start by asking your child what he/she knows about the virus and whether they have any questions. For example, ‘On the news today, they were talking about Coronavirus. Were people at school talking about that? What were they saying?’
• Explain Covid-19 in a way your child can understand.
• Use a calm, reassuring tone and stick to the facts.
• For younger children, keep it simple and brief. For example, ‘That’s right, some people are getting sick with a germ. It makes them cough and sneeze. The sick people are being looked after well by doctors and hospitals.
• For older children, offer more detail. For example, ‘I heard you talking with your friends about how you catch Coronavirus. The virus spreads through things like sneezing, coughing and touching infected things. That’s why good hygiene and handwashing are important. They help to protect everyone.’
Hand in Hand is offering parents in isolation free support calls and other resources to help.
It is a challenging time for all. Reaching out, when feeling overwhelmed is import.
Health Direct offer a list of support contacts to assist Queenslander’s in dealing with the stress of Covid19.https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-health-helplines