The new coronavirus (Covid-19) that is raging through the world right now causes massive panic in Singapore, and that’s putting it mildly. We have seen supermarket runs, false news and fake rumours circulating online. People, in general, are scared and perhaps, unsure of what to do.
If adults are frightened by the unknown, how about our children? The negative news that is continuously shown on TV, social media and other online websites do nothing to calm the fears that ravage through most modern cities globally. How do we talk to our children about Covid-19 to reassure them?
Here are some tips.
Find out what your children know
Singapore has been upfront about the virus, and many news outlets report the symptoms, effects as well as ways of transmission. Your children will pick up information in schools, and when they are watching television. You must find out what they know so that you can help them to digest the information and to highlight the essential things that they should do.
It is tempting to protect your children and mask details. However, kids are resilient when you tell them the truth in a comforting and reassuring manner. Tell your kids the truth when they ask you questions, especially uncomfortable questions about death. They are afraid, and they need you to answer them honestly.
Be calm and reassuring
Kids pick up on your nervousness. Therefore, try to stay calm and speak confidently to reassure your children. The best way to calm your kids is to give them space to express their anxiety and worries. They could be worrying about themselves catching the virus, or you, as their parents catching it. Reassure them that most people display only mild symptoms similar to the flu or cold but do explain that older folks may get a more severe form.
Keep the conversation going
Children tend to worry more about others than themselves, especially when they realise that the virus does not affect them so much. They may start to worry about their grandparents, so encourage them to call grandpa and grandma regularly. Keep the conversation flowing at home, so that your kids know that you are available to discuss their worries and anxiety whenever they need to.
Help your children feel in control
It is vital to help your children feel that they are in control of the situation. Teach them that practising good hygiene habits, such as washing their hands regularly, helps to keep them safe. Show them reports to convince them that having a good night sleep and eating healthy food also helps to keep up the immune system. The critical thing to do is, of course, to be a role model for your children so that they know that you are also doing it.
Keep the usual routine at home
You may be working from home now, and the usual routine gets disrupted. However, with the kids still attending school, try to keep up the usual routine at home as much as you can. The normalcy of the routine will help your children to stay calm and focus. It also will help them to ease fears and worries.
Finally, check out Nickelodeon’s newly launched site to help children and parents navigate the news on Covid-19. You can see SpongeBob practising social distancing, and Bubble Guppies teaching children how to wash their hands!