Top Tips for Parents and Carers during COVID-19
Triple P Guide to Parenting during COVID-19
Update 23 March 2020
Update 17 March 2020
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TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT CORONAVIRUS
It is important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. Parents should monitor their own anxieties and reassure children that health and school officials are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy. Children also need factual, age appropriate information about the virus and concrete instruction about what they can do to help stop the spread of germs. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of control can help reduce anxiety. It is important to filter the information children receive and talk about it in a way they can understand. The following tips can help when talking to your child:
Provide factual, Age-Appropriate Information
Most children will have already heard about the virus, so parents shouldn’t avoid talking about it. Not talking about something can actually make kids worry more and imagine situations to be far worse than reality. Look at the conversation as an opportunity to convey the facts and set the emotional tone.
Give Them a Sense of Control
It’s also a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help. Give simple examples of the steps they can take every day to stop germs and stay healthy.
Watch for Signs of Anxiety
Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may notice signs such as seeking closeness, trouble sleeping, or seeming distracted. Children pick up on the verbal and nonverbal reactions of the adults around them, so it’s important to monitor your own anxiety and the conversations between adults when children are nearby.
Monitor Exposure to Media
Monitor your child’s exposure to news and information in the media. Correct any misinformation or rumours they may have heard. Be aware that developmentally inappropriate information (i.e. information designed for adults) can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children.
Be a Good Role Model
Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. Having a particular ancestry doesn’t make someone more susceptible to the virus or more contagious. When you show empathy for those affected, your children will too. It is important that all students treat others with respect and not become involved in rumours.
Keep Discussions Age Appropriate
Don’t volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming. Instead, be prepared to answer questions by giving brief, simple information that balances facts with reassurances. Older primary school children may need assistance separating reality from rumour and fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.
Family members are encouraged to stay up to date about this situation as we learn more about how to prevent the virus from spreading in homes and in communities.
Department of Education: www.education.wa.edu.au
Western Australian Department of Health: www.healthywa.gov.au
World Health Organisation: www.who.int