How to talk to your child about what is happening

How to talk to your child about what is happening

 

The tips here are from the article Coronavirus: addressing pupil anxiety.

No matter how calmly you manage the current environment, children are likely to be anxious, so it is important to talk to them about what is happening.

 

There are lots of good resources on the Trauma Informed Schools website. This is an approach we use in school: https://www.traumainformedschools.co.uk/resources

 

Together for Families has created a resource page for parents and carers to find useful links around different themes: https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/covidresilience

 

For younger children

 

Children pick up bits of information from their friends, from the news and from listening to adults talking around them – but they can misunderstand what they are hearing.

 

Deal with the news head-on and talk about it openly and calmly, giving them the facts

 

  • Give them age-appropriate information – take a look at:
- BBC Newsround hub – regularly updated with information and advice

 - #covibook – for under 7s

 - Children’s guide to corona virus – a download from the Children’s Commissioner to help explain the situation to children

- Lucy in Lockdown video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RXF5-29VGU

 

 

  • Teach them how to know if information they find on the internet is reliable. Explain how some stories on social media may be based on rumours or inaccurate information.
  • Encourage them to take breaks from listening to or reading the news – overexposure is not helpful.

 

Encourage questions

 

  • This will give them the confidence to reach out, if they have anything to ask.
  • Be reassuring, but honest when answering questions – it is ok if you do not have all the answers.
  • Be ready to answer the same question over and over – children tend to repeat themselves when they are feeling uncertain or worried, so you might have to answer the same questions more than once as they seek extra reassurance.

 

Be a role model

 

  • Recognise and manage your own worries first.
  • Be open about your own feelings and let them know it is normal to be concerned – for example, let them know you are also finding the news a bit worrying and what you are doing to stay calm.

 

Explain how our body's immune system protects us

 

  • It is constantly working against germs without us knowing. We cannot and do not need to control this process.
  • Explain that we are taking precautions against this particular germ because it is a new one which our bodies have not come across before.
  • Remind them how important it is that they eat healthy food, sleep and exercise, as this helps to fight germs.
  • If it helps, reassure them that the effects of this virus on healthy young people are very mild.

 

Keep doing your bit to help children reduce the spread of germs

 

  • Remind them to maintain good hygiene like bathing daily and wearing fresh clothes.
  • Encourage them to sing 'happy birthday' twice when they are washing their hands.

 

 

If you have older children in your household

 

Older children will have the same anxieties about their own health and that of their family and friends as younger children. However, they are also likely to feel socially isolated and worried about the result of school closures on their education and what life will be like after the pandemic is over.

 

In addition to the steps above:

 

Reassure them that when more guidance comes from the school about how grades will be awarded, you will share this with them as soon as you have it – you could also check that they understand the information you have received so far, in case there are any points of confusion or worry that the school could help too.

 

Encourage them to maintain social ties – relationships are especially important for older children, so give them room to keep in touch with their friends.

 

Equip them with accurate information – for example:

 

 

Share tools to help them manage anxiety

 

 

If your child struggles with higher levels of anxiety

 

Some children are naturally more anxious, such as those with existing phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorders. The current situation can make those anxieties worse.

 

Get them to do activities such as counting, ordering and sorting tasks which can help them calm down. 

Encourage them to use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing.

Look out for obsessive or compulsive behaviours and try to get ahead of them early by challenging unhelpful thoughts and assumptions.

 

If you are worried about your child’s anxiety, YoungMinds is a charity dedicated to children’s mental

health. They have opened a parents’ helpline for confidential, expert advice. You can reach them at

0808 802 5544.

Supporting Pupils with SEN during this time

 

Please find below some resources which may be useful for pupils with additional needs. 

 A downloadable book. This book can help children feeling worried about the coronavirus outbreak. Molly Watts, an intensive care nurse at Southampton Children's Hospital, wrote the online picture book Dave the Dog Is Worried About Coronavirus after a nightshift last week.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-51997381

 

Social story PDF.  From ELSA support. An excellent resource for younger children, or those with additional needs, about coronavirus using a social stories format. It will help young people or those with additional needs to understand the troubling situation.

https://www.elsa-support.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Childrens-story-about-coronavirus.pdf

 

Social Story PDF. A social story for slightly older children, which was designed for children with autism, you will need to register on the website, which is free to do.

https://littlepuddins.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/The-Corona-Virus-Free-Printable-Updated-2-The-Autism-Educator-.pdf

 

Social Story by Carol Gray. A social story for children, which was designed for children with autism, but can be used to explain the current situation.

https://carolgraysocialstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Pandemics-and-the-Coronavirus.pdf