Mother and Child

How to Talk to Your Child About COVID-19

“Now is the time to stay close to our children. They need to feel us beside them so they don’t feel as worried as they are.
We need to be honest with them and let them know that good people from around the world are working very hard to keep them safe and healthy.
Our children will believe us, we love them deeply.”

Australian Childhood Foundation article: “Staying Connected with our Children”

The situation we find ourselves in at the moment triggers a range of emotions and concerns for us all. As adults, we have multiple concerns and a range of emotions moving through us, and we may be struggling to find adequate words to express ourselves.
Our children bear witness to our confusion or worries and are exposed to most of the same ‘flood’ of information that surrounds us. They will be experiencing their own confusion, anxiety and wordlessness.

Play and movement-based activities are helpful ways for children to ‘ventilate’ and regulate strong emotions. It is also helpful for children to have quiet time to connect with you without having to talk or be ‘busy’—opportunities to be still.

Children need to know what is going on and why their lives have changed so much; why they can’t see their friends, why school has stopped, why library visits and playgroup is no longer happening, why sleepovers and visits to grandparents are not happening.

At this time it is important to give children information that is age appropriate. What you talk about with a teenager will be very different to what you tell a 10 year old and different again for a four year old.
There are some resources that may support these discussions:
Australian Childhood Foundation resources for families about COVID-19: https://www.childhood.org.au/covid-19/
There are a selection of stories and resources for parents and carers supporting children to understand about COVID-19 as they work through social isolation.

Regardless of your childrens’ ages you need to stay connected.

The Australian Childhood Foundation have put together these simple suggestions to help you talk about the virus in a way that is truthful and loving.

  • Be honest with your children about what is happening. Let them know that things like this have happened before, and they have ended.
  • Remind children you love them and your love will never change. Validate their feelings and reassure them you have the same sorts of feelings too. Tell them it’s ok to be worried or scared, or to feel whatever emotions they’re experiencing. Tell them they can share these emotions with you. Acknowledge the disruptions and change in activities. Let them know these activities will start again when the virus has gone. Work together on how you can do these sorts of activities at home together.
  • Have fun and play together and have quiet time together too.

I am offering support to parents and carers through online or telephone consultations, throughout this period. If you would like to ‘check-in’ or make a time to talk with me about ways to support your children (or yourself), please do not hesitate to contact me. Reduced fees may apply.

Contact us by clicking here.

References:

Australian Childhood Foundation article: “Staying Connected with our Children”

Helpful Resources.

  • Online book by Theresa Fraser (attached) and also available for download here: https://www.maritimeplaytherapycentre.com/blog
    This book is brief and helpful for explaining to children that we are all working together to help people by staying home.
  • Australian Childhood Foundation’s ‘Bringing Up Great Kids’ page: http://www.bringingupgreatkids.org/en/

For other excellent parenting resources, including videos and reading materials about ‘connected parenting.’

  • Kinderling Radio: https://www.kinderling.com.au/
    Music and stories to share with younger children. Older children love them too!
  • Generation Mindful: https://genmindful.com/products/time-in-toolkit
  • Time in Toolkit. Helping children learn about their emotions in a positive and supportive way.

Parenting Support Resources

  • The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did). Penguin Life Random House UL. 2019. Philippa Perry.
    A simple and relatively short read to help parents differentiate their feelings so they are better able to help their children. Practical and relevant for any parent.

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With the rapidly evolving situation surrounding COVID-19, Perth Counselling and Psychotherapy has moved all sessions online to minimise the risk of transmission to staff and clients. Rest assured, all our staff are highly skilled in working with clients online. Please contact your therapist to discuss this further.