educator reassuring little girl playing in childcare centre
By keiki

Coronavirus and how to talk to your child about it

Over the last few months, the word Coronavirus is said at least a dozen times per hour on the radio, news programs and in our day to day lives.

Sometimes as adults, we assume (and hope) our children are oblivious to world events and the many negative things discussed on the news but the truth is they inhabit the same world we do, they hear and see the news and if they haven’t, their friends have.

Be open and honest

There is no avoiding talking to your kids about issues they are aware of. Children process the world in a way that makes them vulnerable; concepts of time, place and distance are inexact. Often, children see or hear about something happening in places far away from here, but as they do not understand how far away that place is, they can feel that the threat is immediate and frightening.

Children can pick up on if parents or trusted adults are feeling worried, they see our micro expressions, and they are often too afraid to ask what has you so concerned. This is why we must be open and careful in responding to children’s questions and discussing issues that we may only be slightly concerned about.

How to discuss the Coronavirus with your child

Below are some suggestions on how to talk to children about the Coronavirus.

  • Choose a time when you are not rushed, stressed, tired or hungry so you can provide your child with your full attention. Sometimes, car travel is the best time. When older children do not have the pressure of eye contact, they tend to ask more questions and be more honest about how they’re feeling.
  • Keep the tone calm and reassuring and share positive messages.
  • Ask open questions, “What do you know about the Coronavirus?” and “How do you feel about it”
  • Validate any concerns they have but offer facts and positive messages to reassure them. For example, ‘What if I get it and die?’ – ‘Coronavirus is just like a cold or flu. Not many kids have caught it and when they do they get better very quickly, just like when you’ve been sick before, because you’re healthy and strong’.
  • Answer any questions they have as factually as possible, but steer the conversation back to reassuring facts, eg: ”its just like a cold or flu for most people”, ”children rarely get sick”, ”pets cannot get Coronavirus”, ”Scientists, Doctors and Nurses are working hard to keep us all safe.”
  • If your child becomes concerned about their grandparents or other elderly family members or friends, tell them how proud you are of their loving and caring nature. Then reassure them that we have lots of people to help anyone who gets sick to get better again.

Give your child some control

Give your child some power and control over the situation. Tell them that they are already doing all the best things to keep themselves healthy.

Teach your child to wash their hands regularly

Encourage your child to regularly wash their hands, such as before and after eating, after going to the toilet, and when arriving and leaving their child care service or school. The best and most effective hand hygiene technique is soap and water. The whole process should take about 30 seconds. Follow these 5 simple steps for the best results:

  1. Wet hands with running water. (cold water is effective, but warm is more comfortable.)
  2. Apply soap to hands.
  3. Lather soap and rub hands thoroughly, including wrists, the palms, between fingers, around the thumbs and under the nails. Rub hands together for at least 15 seconds (for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday once.)
  4. Rinse thoroughly under running water.
  5. Dry thoroughly.

Another effective hand hygiene technique for when your hands are NOT visibly dirty is an alcohol-based hand rub. Follow the manufactures directions, but children should always be supervised when using an alcohol-based hand rub.

Teach your child about coughing and sneezing etiquette

Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into their elbow is also an important habit for children to develop. After coughing and sneezing, encourage your child to wash their hands to ensure any germs are killed. Also, encourage your child to avoid touching their face, mouth, nose and eyes as this is the most common method of children picking up any virus is transferred.

Childcare and Coronavirus

At Keiki Early Learning we regularly review and update our health policies including the Coronavirus COVID-19 Policy. Children and families are actively encouraged to wash their hands using sanitiser before entering services and rooms, and to avoid attending the service when they feel unwell. To view our current policies or for any questions about this article, please email schools@keikiearlylearning.com.au.