The WHO, on March 12th, 2020, has declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic. At this stage, the whole world has to come together to contain this virus. It is a time where everyone should be educated on what this virus does and how we can prevent it from spreading.
Families around the globe are now anxious about this new virus. While we don’t know to what extent the disease may spread, we do know that it is contagious, that the severity of the illness can vary from individual to individual, and that there are steps we can take to prevent the spread of infection.
We must acknowledge some level of concern, and taking necessary precautions can help reduce the risk of getting ill. Helping children cope with anxiety requires providing accurate prevention information and facts without causing undue alarm.
Children look to adults for guidance and their reaction towards stressful events. Their anxiety may rise if they see their parents in a panic. Parents should reassure their children that the community and government are working hard to make sure that everyone is safe. Children should be made to understand some facts and age-appropriate information about the disease and simple measures they should take to avoid infection and the spread of disease.
Guidelines for Parents:
1. Do not panic, stay calm
- Children reciprocate your actions regardless of what they understand.
- Your action and conversation about COVID-19 and related events can either increase or decrease your children’s anxiety.
- Reassure them that you and other adults at their school are there to keep them safe and healthy.
- Speak with your child about their knowledge of the disease and help reframe their concerns into the appropriate perspective.
- If true, emphasize to your children that they and your family are fine.
2. Be there for your child
- You know your children best. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. However, don’t avoid giving them the information that health experts identify as critical to ensuring your children’s health.
- Children are exposed to scattered information from their young friends and social media. Talk to them about their concerns and questions.
- They should feel safe at home, knowing that they have someone who will listen to them; make time for them.
- Tell them you are there to protect them and give them plenty of affection.
3. Do not get into excessive blaming
- At times of panic, we tend to blame others.
- It is very important to avoid stereotyping people or their community as responsible for the virus.
- Bullying or negative comments made toward others should be stopped and reported to the school.
- Make sure everyone at home maintains the same amount of sanity towards dealing with the situation.
4. Know what your kids watch
- Avoid watching upsetting information when your children are around. Monitor the television and online content they view.
- Speak to your child about how many stories about COVID-19 on the Internet may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
- Make your child understand that stories about COVID-19 on the internet may be inaccurate or misguiding.
- Talk to your child about factual information about this disease.
- Avoid watching repetitive content on the status of COVID-19 as this can increase anxiety.
- Age inappropriate information (i.e., information designed for adults) can cause confusion and anxiety in young.
- Keep your children engaged in safe games or other interesting activities.
5. Try to keep a normal routine
- Promote a regular schedule at home, this can be reassuring and promotes physical health.
- Encourage your kids to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
6. Be open and honest with your child
- Children tend to imagine situations far worse than reality. Provide them with factual data.
- Explain to them the current state of the disease in the country and neighborhood. But fact checks your knowledge before sharing with others.
- Explain to them that COVID-19 is thought to be spread between people who are in close contact—when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- It is also thought it can be spread when you touch an infected surface or object and later touching your regions close to face, which is why it is so important to protect yourself.
- For more factual information contact your school, ask your doctor.
7. Know the symptoms of COVID-19
- The CDC believes the symptoms of COVID-19 appear in a few days after being infected by the virus or as long as 14 days after exposure:
- The symptoms include; Fever, Cough, and Shortness for breath.
- For some people the symptoms are like having a cold; for others, they are quite severe or even life-threatening.
- It is important to understand that the symptoms of COVID-19 closely resembles that of any common flu and can be easily mistaken by an anxious layman.
- It is important to check with your child’s healthcare and follow instructions about staying home or away from public spaces to prevent the spread of the virus.
8. Follow basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle
- Promote good hygiene at home—some simple steps to prevent the spread of illness:
- Wash hands multiple times a day for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover mouths with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and throw away the tissue immediately, or sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow. Do not share food or drinks.
- Avoid giving handshakes for a while. Fewer germs are spread this way.
- Giving children guidance on what they can do to prevent infection gives them a greater sense of control over disease spread and will help to reduce their anxiety.
- Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly; this will help them develop a strong immune system to fight off illness.
- Avoid getting any illness during this state of panic, as this can cause anxiety and can peers might isolate them due to fear. Staying healthy can also help the health department use the available resources to contain the pandemic.
9. Be in touch with your school
- Many schools already enforce illness prevention habits, including frequent hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand cleansers.
- Your school principal will send information home about any new rules or practices.
- Be sure to discuss this with your child.
- Let your school know if your child is sick and keep them home. Your school may ask if your child has a fever or not. This information will help the school to know why your child was kept home. If your child is diagnosed with COVID-19, let the school know so they can communicate with and get guidance from local health authorities.
- Make sure to follow all instructions from your school.
10. Give Age-Appropriate Explanations
- Elementary school children need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people take every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands
- Primary school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 comes to their school or community. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss the efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.
- High school students are able to discuss the issue in a more in-depth fashion and can be referred directly to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.
Stay healthy and avoid spreading the disease:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Wash hands often with soap and water (20 seconds).
- If you don’t have soap, use hand sanitizer (60–95% alcohol-based).
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.