Familiarizing Children With Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is a pandemic in the true sense of the word. It has invaded every space of human existence and disrupted life as we knew. Lockdowns and shutdowns have become the new way of life with the advent of COVID-19 across the globe.
With the shutting down of Schools in many countries, Children have their own concerns and fears about this new disease. The wild imagination of children can lead them to create catastrophic tales in their minds. Therefore these concerns need to be addressed without fueling the flame of anxiety.
Following are some ways to handle their inquisitiveness:
Share neither too much nor too less
Adults need to strike a balance about how much information should be shared with the Children. Too much information may cause the Children to be alarmed and distressed. Too little information may result in an inadequate understanding of the amount of precautions to be taken for staying safe from the disease.
Before providing any information to children the caregivers need to have the facts in order by keeping themselves abreast with the latest updates from reliable sources like WHO and the advisories of their respective governments. The WHO myth busters page, can help dispel misinformation that may be spreading about this new virus.
Possible queries of Children about COVID-19
Before commencing communication, one should understand what the child already knows and what doubts the child has about the disease. Some common questions the children may have and their reasonable answers can be as follows:
What is Novel Coronavirus?
It is a new microorganism (germ) that makes people sick. The sickness caused by this germ is similar to flu. Certain people may feel a little sick, while others may feel a lot sicker. Some may even find it hard to breathe.
How do we get sick with this Coronavirus?
The coronavirus spreads like flu or common cold. Sneezing or coughing causes a spray of the germs to come out of the sick person into the air and on surrounding surfaces. By inhaling these germs from air or getting those from contaminated surfaces make people sick with this virus.
How to avoid Coronavirus Infection?
- The virus can travel a distance of six feet which is more than the height of most adults. Therefore it is important to keep a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people other than your healthy family members, because you don’t want to breathe in air with the germs.
- The germs can also get onto the hands of healthy people by touching sick people or touching surfaces that already have those germs. The surfaces get the virus when sick people cough or sneeze onto them or touch them. The virus on the hands can get into the body through mouth, nose and eyes if the hands are not washed properly with soap and water for 20 seconds. Alternatively, the hands can be regularly cleaned with a hand sanitizer. Therefore touching of mouth, nose & eyes is to be avoided.
- Sneeze or cough into tissues or into your elbow. After using the tissue throw it away in the trash can. This keeps germs from travelling and making other people sick.
Why are certain people wearing masks?
Masks are for sick people, so that they don’t spread the germs to others. The masks are also worn by doctors, nurses and other hospital staff so that they do not catch the virus from sick people. Most of the Healthy people don’t need to wear a mask, unless they are around sick people.
Can people die from Coronavirus?
Most of the people who had this virus have gotten well. Doctors are working hard to treat anyone who is feeling sick by providing them the required medical help.
Reassuring the Children
The adults need to appear calm despite their apprehensions while discussing about the virus. Children can easily sense distress in adults. Therefore it is important to be at ease in the presence of children.
Exposure of children to news about COVID-19 should be limited, since some news stories can use words that are strong and scary for children. At times a child’s anxiety can make them ask same or similar questions repeatedly. This is a reassurance seeking behavior which needs to be addressed at home or by an expert advice if required.
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