As a parent, it’s likely you’ll be concerned about COVID-19. But how should you talk to your child about coronavirus?
You may not have yet talked to your child about coronavirus, but with new cases of COVID-19 cropping up every day, it’s likely that – by now – she’ll have grasped some sense of what’s going on.
She may be scared, and will undoubtedly have a lot of questions, but Dr Nikiforidou, senior lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, advises parents not to “skirt around the issue”.
“Your child will pick up pieces of information vicariously, whether it’s snippets of things she hears on the radio, in the car, or through news segments overheard from the TV or from discussions with peers at school.”
“Internally, she may be trying to process this new information, which could also be making her fearful. You need to involve her in the discussion, and bring her into the picture to make her feel like her enquiries have merit.”
So, how should you talk to your child about coronavirus? We asked Emma Bradley, parenting expert at Childcare.co.uk, for her tips on handling this sensitive subject with your youngsters.
Listen to your child
“First and foremost, it’s important that you acknowledge your child’s concerns and listen to them,” says Emma.
“If you’re the one bringing up the subject, start by finding out what she already knows. This will allow you to separate fact from fiction, and dispel any myths she may have heard on the playground or on the TV.”
Reinforce good hygiene
“Explain that viruses are spread by coughing and sneezing, and emphasise basic hygiene with your child, reminding her that this needs to happen both at school and at home,” says Emma.
Public Health England advises that the best way to stop the spread of the virus is to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap – ideally for the length of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. You should also use a tissue to catch any sneezes or coughs, and avoid touching your face.
“Remind your children that you know what to do to reduce the chance of them getting sick,” adds Emma. “Give examples, such as cleaning the house, wiping down surfaces and feeding them healthy meals.”
Stick to your routine
Spreading fear will do nothing but increase your child’s anxiety, so Emma suggests sticking to your routine and carrying on as normal as best you can. Try to be aware of projecting your own fears onto your child, too, as there’s a good chance she will pick up on how you’re feeling and follow your lead.
However, now that social distancing and self-isolation has been advised across the UK, and the threat of school closures seemingly drawing closer, it may prove more difficult to carry on as usual.
In these instances, try to ensure your home-time stays as normal as possible. Where possible, morning routines could remain unchanged and a school hours spent with at-home learning.
“It’s worth explaining that, although coronavirus appears to be very contagious, most people who get it will soon feel better and be back to normal afterwards. If you do catch it, it will resemble a heavy cold or flu,” Emma says.
While tens of thousands of people have been affected, over 50,000 people have recovered from the virus after catching it.
Videos to Teach Your Child About Coronavirus
When words are proving a little difficult to teach your little ones about coronavirus and the spread of germs, there are number of ways you can show them about the importance of washing their hands.
Videos are circulating on social media of some simple experiments to teach your kids about Coronavirus.
A Miami-based pre-school teacher, Amanda Lorenzo, found a great visual way of explaining the spread of germs using pepper. Her video has since gone viral and even been picked up by a number of celebs with children, including Tom and Giovanna Fletcher, who used the experiment to teach their brood about Covid-19.
View this post on Instagram
Learning about the importance of washing our hands!🧼 I wish you all could’ve seen how truly shocked they were that the “virus,” (pepper) moves away from the soap! So much fun and very informative! The things you learn from #TikTok 😂 #prekactivities #coronaviruspreventiontips #dabbooratnani
Coronavirus and pregnancy
While we still don’t know a lot about pregnancy and coronavirus, it seems pregnant women are no more at risk than anyone else of experiencing severe symptoms.
In a study of 147 pregnant women by the World Health Organisation, it was found that only eight per cent had severe disease, and only one per cent were critically ill.
At the moment, it’s too soon to know how these women’s babies have been affected, but so far, infants born to women who have tested positive for coronavirus appeared healthy at birth – as found in an investigation by The Lancet.
Initial research also suggests that coronavirus cannot be contracted in the womb. UK-based online doctor at Zava UK, Dr Babak Ashrafi, told Metro: “It’s more likely that the condition is picked up after birth from close contact with a carrier.”
He added: “While it’s unlikely that coronavirus can be passed on prenatally, pregnant women should still take steps to protect themselves from coronavirus, as high fevers during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects.”
Read more about Covid-19 and pregnancy here.
What are the risks of coronavirus in babies?
Again, there’s not a huge amount of information available about whether babies are more at risk from coronavirus, but evidence so far suggests that they are not severely affected.
In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which detailed infections in nine Chinese infants (aged between one and 11 months old), none of the babies “required intensive care, mechanical ventilation or had any severe complications.” All nine babies also had at least one known infected family member.
If you believe you or your baby are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, contact the NHS’ online service immediately for advice on what to do next.
Is it safe to breastfeed if I have coronavirus?
Unicef advises that if a mother has tested positive for coronavirus, they “can continue breastfeeding while applying all the necessary precautions.”
Mothers should wear a mask when near their baby (especially during feeding), wash their hands before and after contact with their child, and disinfect any contaminated surfaces.
“If the mother is too ill, she should be encouraged to express milk instead,” allowing another family member or friend to feed the baby – all while following the same precaution methods.
If you think you might have coronavirus, do not visit your local GP or doctor’s surgery. Instead, call 111 or use the NHS’ online service and explain your symptoms.
- How to get Your Toddler to Sleep
- How to Help Your Toddler Settle in at Nursery
- Back to School Bugs and how to Beat Them