COVID-19: The Facts
Before speaking to your kids about COVID-19, make sure that you have done your homework. Read up as much as you can about the precautions to take, symptoms and treatments without overwhelming yourself. Remember to rely on credible sources for accurate information, as you do not want to misinform or frighten your little ones. Luckily, we here at Joburg.co.za have just the thing to get you started learning all the facts - a comprehensive collection of resources about COVID-19, which includes other news sources to provide you with a broad picture on the outbreak and its global effects.
Once you have thoroughly read up on COVID-19, find a way to simplify the information you have consumed before presenting it to your kids. This is not to say that your children cannot understand the implications or causes of the virus, but it may be best to limit their information to avoid unnecessary anxiety. The trick is to be clear and honest, using as few words as possible when talking to your children about COVID-19.
A good example of how to address your child about COVID-19 may go something like this:
"The coronavirus is a type of germ. These germs are very, very tiny, and when they get inside your body, they can make you sick. The germs get in your body through your nose, mouth or eyes. When someone coughs and touches a doorknob, and then you touch the doorknob, those germs might get into your body. It’s helpful to wash our hands a lot and try to stay away from big crowds," (sourced from PBS News Hour).
Of course, when dealing with teenagers it can be difficult to limit the amount of information they receive through social media channels. They may even be more informed about the coronavirus than you are! Consider restricting their screen time to limit mass amounts of information coming their way. Encourage them to talk to you about their worries and make the most of this family bonding time. Be sure to set a good example by turning away from your own devices for a while. Read together or have a family game night instead.
The most important rule of thumb when it comes to talking to your kids about COVID-19 is to make them feel safe and in control. Teach them how to wash their hands properly, blow their nose into a tissue and cough into the crook of their elbows. You can make this process fun by turning it into a dance or by singing the chorus of their favourite song while washing your hands together. The objective here is to keep your kids washing their hands for 20 seconds or longer. Sing along to The Wiggles Handwashing Song or two rounds of Happy Birthday to be sure that all the germies are washed away!
You may have to explain to your kids why they are being kept away from school and their friends. Again, let them know that they are going to be alright, but that for the time being it is important to distance themselves from other people to avoid spreading the virus. Seeing that they are likely to be away from school for an undetermined amount of time, take the opportunity to teach them skills which they may not learn in a classroom environment. Cooking, baking, gardening, painting and sculpting are examples of at-home activities to keep the kids busy and stress-free. For a more comprehensive list of fun things to do with the kids while they are on school break, click here.
Keep Yourself Healthy
We understand that in the face of a pandemic, you may forget to practice self-care. However, it is imperative that you keep yourself calm, cool-minded and well balanced during this time. Keep it simple by ensuring you get your five fruit and veg a day, drink lots of water and get enough rest. Even though you may be cooped up at home and taking care of your family, remember to set aside time for yourself as well. This can be a 20-minute bubble bath or a quiet meditation before everyone else wakes up in the morning. Eased regulations on outside exercise also mean that you can for a walk or bike ride between 06:00 - 09:00. As long as you are keeping to yourself and practicing good hygiene, there is no reason why you can't enjoy a little time to yourself outdoors.
Good luck, parents!