Talking to Our Children About Covid-19

In a nutshell –discuss Coronavirus with your children honestly. You can provide anything from a faint thumb nail sketch up to a very detailed and vivid painting, according to your child’s needs and developmental stage. But be as open and honest as you can and think about your child’s developmental stage/understanding and needs.

Conversations might feel hard – you won’t always have the answers to your child’s questions and you can’t provide the security, protection and certainty that you yearn to provide; you cannot say “it will all be fine”. However, what you tell them is unlikely to be as bad as what they’ve heard from a friend or from social media. Talking about Covid-19 can provide an opportunity to bring you together as a family.
For younger children we love this resource to help facilitate conversations with children:

Here are our top 5 tips for talking to your child/ren:

  1. Admit and normalise your worry and uncertainty; children are masters at picking up on when adults are not being truthful. That hesitation, that looking away, that shift in your body are all things they see.
  2. Keep your threat brain and anxiety in check – if you are flooded with fear you won’t be thinking clearly and your children will follow your lead. You need to be calm and grounded when talking to your children – see our article on “Managing Your Threat Brain” as a parent.
  3. Analyse the information and risk assess for your child – children of all ages will struggle with this; their brains have simply not developed fully enough in the areas required to do this well.  Help your child understand what fact is and what is speculation. Limit media exposure. Help them understand the balanced risks for their friends and family and what you are doing to manage these risks. Check out their worst fears.
  4. Show your child how you can cope as a family; the things you can do to stay safe, healthy and able to fight a virus and how you can support each other through adversity  – they will feel some reassurance from this and learn about active coping to boot!
  5. Help your child see the opportunities and hold on to the future – what would they like to change or try different at home? Like everything in life, this will pass but how would they like to be on the other side of it?

Please go to our resources page for additional family resources.

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"Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative"

“Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative. During the second period of lockdown and home-schooling; parents and children found themselves again in a period of upheaval and transition. Many parents and carers were extremely worried about their children’s mental health and their own ability to be present and engaged whilst also playing the role of teacher and care giver. Dr Shortland gave attendees an insight into how many parents were feeling; tips on supporting children and helping them cope whilst studying from home and also managing their mental health. She also helped us realise the importance of taking care of ourselves in order to effectively support our children. It was such a useful session that we realise it was also pertinent for not only children’s mental health but also adults! We will be holding another session with Dr Andrea and MediaCom soon.”

Avelon Thompson, MediaCom (following a parenting workshop)