Your children are probably more aware of what’s going on than you think and the chances are that they’ll be sensing something’s wrong. So no matter what age they are, it’s important that you look after their mental health at this time. Talking about COVID-19 can be difficult, but it’s important to give children and young people the chance to express what they’re feeling and to ask any questions they may have. So speak to your child calmly and if they don’t want to talk, give them space. During this time, letting children offload their worries and offering them reassurance is often enough. However, if they’re looking for your help and advice, remember to try to be optimistic. Be truthful in what you say, take an honest and accurate approach, and adjust the amount of detail to fit their age. Cartoons or pictures might work better for younger children: Child Friendly Explanation of Coronavirus.
The British Psychological Society has produced a document that shares some of the things we know can help with anxiety and making difficult decisions: Managing uncertainty in children and young people: Advice for parents during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The BBC Bitesize website also provides a number of helpful articles:
A lovely little book for children has been produced by Anne-Mette Lange, clinical psychologist, and illustrator Marie Geert Jensen. It contains tips for children on how they can take care of themselves and have good days: Good days in unusual times.
Another great little book for children, written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts, and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: Coronavirus – A Book for Children.
The Resilience Alphabet for Kids is a Toolkit of 26 words and activities for children aged 7-12 years of age, to help them build inner strength and resilience during Covid-19. There’s also a Resilience Alphabet toolkit for the 13-16 age group, that can help young people work through and express their feelings and thoughts during this time of change. You’ll find the toolkit for young people here.
It’s natural that children will have questions and worries about Coronavirus, and giving them space to ask these questions is a good way to alleviate anxiety. Again, try to be honest in your responses and if you don’t have the answer, it’s okay to say you don’t know. At the moment, there are questions we don’t have answers to, so you can explain this to your child and tell them about the things people are doing to try to answer these questions. Maybe your child has an idea too and you can let them tell you about it or create drawings. Lastly, remind your child of the most important things they can do to stay healthy: they can wash their hands and learn to “catch it, bin it, kill it” when they cough or sneeze.
As sources of good information are key at this time, we’re recommending the following websites:
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