By Emily Byrne, Marketing Executive at YUDU
Header Image by Simon Rae
What can parents do to make sure their children aren’t anxious and overwhelmed about the Coronavirus crisis?
YUDU’s Creative Director and father of two, Charlie Stephenson gave gleaming advice on how parents can help their child to deal with Covid-19 woes. Look out for Charlie’s pearls of wisdom throughout the blog.
“Each child and age group will react differently to the news about Coronavirus. Children are like sponges and if their parents are anxious, children will likely be anxious about everything, so it is really important for parents to look after their health the best they can.”
Read these five tips for all age groups to find out how you can help your child… and yourself, cope with Covid-19.
1) Get on the same page
We must talk to children about Coronavirus in a language they understand. Answer any questions and reassure children in an age appropriate manner. Although you might not know all the answers to your child’s question, talking things through will help them feel calmer and get rid of those niggling worries. Tell your child it’s completely okay to feel scared or unsure and encourage them this will pass.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern held a press conference on Coronavirus specifically for children last month. She used a familiar metaphor to communicate the pressure now on essential keyworkers to children.
‘The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are essential keyworkers.’
Ardern further used the metaphor to explain why children need to support keyworkers and the vulnerable in their community:
‘I say to the children of New Zealand, if the Easter Bunny doesn’t make it to your household… then we have to understand it’s perhaps a bit difficult for the bunny to make it everywhere.’
Remind your child that we are all working together to do as much as we can to fight the virus and that we’re staying inside to stop the virus spreading and to support keyworkers. Perhaps this is where Ardern’s anecdote may come in handy.
2) Soap and glory
Handwashing can be exciting? We hear you cry. At the press conference for children, Ardern was accompanied by Dr Michelle Dickinson, who specialises in science communication for children. Use fun online resources to be sure your children are scrubbing accordingly.
Dr Dickinson shared a video online this week explaining how soap actually works. The video has become a viral hit, prompting Dickinson to produce more clips as the crisis unfolds.
So, how does soap destroy Covid-19?
According to Dr Dickinson’s video, it’s thanks to the molecules of soap and the double fat coat (or lipid bilayer) that surrounds the virus.
The video boasted some interactivity as well, with children asking questions about the virus, how it’s transmitted and how to keep their grandparents safe.
3) Replace bad news with positive thoughts
In the current age the news can’t be avoided. You shouldn’t try and shield your child from the news. However, the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 guidelines suggest only viewing the news once a day. Pass on WHO’s advice to your child and emphasise that not everything they see online should be trusted as concrete news.
Be sure to speak to your child about what they’re viewing without prying on their independence. Or, watch the news with your kids so they don’t view the bad stuff without you. Remind your child to counteract the news by focussing on things which make them feel safe and happy.
Parents of younger children might want to avoid news-watching entirely, as Charlie explains:
“I don’t watch the news with the children, partly because they are too young and will get bored of it, but I don’t see the need to keep them informed of the situation as it develops. I just keep up to date with stuff on my mobile through news apps.”
News apps are a brilliant way of keeping track of events whilst keeping negative news feeds away from the comfort of the home environment.
4) Home-schooling: Reinvigorate your routine
Make the most of interactive resources like Joe Wicks’ PE at 9am every weekday or educational TV programmes such as Horrible Histories and Blue Planet. Watching all of David Attenborough should be essential to the curriculum anyway, surely?
You could design family crests, organise sports days or steal Annie Mac’s idea and surprise your child with history lessons on rave, northern soul or punk. Boost morale by painting rainbows to display on your windows to show thanks for the NHS and other key workers.
Remember, things don’t have to be super strict like school. Exams being postponed and cancelled alleviates pressure and be sure to remind your child of this.
Charlie and his family have been finding the light within the darkness of Covid-19:
“Make the best of the situation. My partner has been creating weekly videos about everything we’ve done that week the kids and it will be a good record of this strange time. We might even look back on it with fondness!”
Positive practical activities will reassure your child and reduce anxiety, as well as providing time to talk without having to call for an ever-ominous ‘big chat’.
It’s likely that schools will soon be re-opened as lockdown restrictions begin to modify after the 7th May. Make sure your child knows, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
5) Put your compassionate hat on
Make sure your compassionate to yourself as a parent as well as to your child. Charlie encourages other parents working from home whilst looking after little ones to be kind to themselves:
“As a parent don’t judge yourself too harshly about what you can realistically achieve whilst everyone is at home. These are not normal times.”
Reassure your child it’s unlikely they’ll get seriously ill and if they did, you would be there to look after them. Explain the NHS and government are doing a remarkable job of keeping everyone as safe as they can.
Let your child know the additional support you have around you as an adult. Don’t forgot to look after yourself too. If you’re feeling worried or anxious about coronavirus, talk to someone you trust.
YUDU’s Director of Crisis Management, Jim Preen recently recorded a webinar with psychotherapist, Dr Liz Royle from KRTS. Access the webinar here: https://vimeo.com/405360962.
Other useful resources: