Talking to children about Covid-19 – we can help

Do you need some help with talking to a child or young person about the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19)?

Families around the world are facing the same problem. It can be difficult to explain, especially to younger children, but we hope the following tips might be helpful.

 Remain calm and reassuring

  • Children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.

 Make yourself available to listen and to talk

  • Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.

 Avoid language that might blame others

  • Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s background.

Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio or online

  • Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on Covid-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

 Provide information that is honest and accurate

  • Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for their age and developmental level.
  • Talk to children about how some stories on Covid-19 on the internet and social media may be based on rumours and inaccurate information.
  • We’re recommending that you check the government website for the most recent updates.

Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs

  • Remind children to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then immediately dispose of it. If they don’t have a tissue, they should cough or sneeze into their elbow. Everyone should wash their hands with soap and water straight after coughing or sneezing.
  • Get children into a handwashing habit:
    • Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
    • If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitiser. Hand sanitiser should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitiser to prevent them swallowing alcohol.

 Describing Covid-19

  • Covid-19 is the short name for coronavirus. It is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it.
  • Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors say most people will be ok, especially children, but some people might get quite ill.
  • Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.

 What can we do to try avoiding Covid-19?

  • You can practice lots of healthy habits to help protect against the spread:
    • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it in the bin right away.
    • Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose, and eyes. This will help keep germs out of your body.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Follow these five steps— wet, lather (make bubbles), scrub (rub together), rinse and dry. You can sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
    • If you don’t have soap and water, an adult can help you use a special hand cleaner (hand sanitiser)
    • Keep things clean. Older children can help adults to clean the things we touch the most, like surfaces, electronic devices, doorknobs, light switches and remote controls.
    • It might be hard, but we should all follow the rules about staying at home as much as possible. We don’t know when at the moment, but the rules will change and things will get back to normal.

 What happens if someone gets sick with Covid-19?

  • It’s different for different people. For many people, it would be a bit like having the flu. People can get a temperature, a cough, or find it hard to take deep breaths. Most people haven’t got very sick, but some do have more serious problems. From what doctors have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While quite a lot of adults do get sick, most get better.
  • If you do get sick, it doesn’t mean you have coronavirus. People can get ill for all sorts of reasons. What’s important to remember is that if you do get ill, adults will get you any help you need.



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