Coronavirus: How should I tell my children about Covid-19?

Britons are having to adapt to new ways of living amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Many are working from home, schools and nurseries are closed, and people have been told not to go out unless necessary.

Many families are having to self-isolate, facing the prospect of losing loved ones, which no doubt brings difficult questions for parents from their young ones.

So, how should parents deal with the big questions about family and spreading the virus?

The government has introduced a series of emergency measures to battle the virus. Credit: PA

Dr Max Davie, the officer for health improvement at the Royal College of Paedatrics and Child Health, says parents should talk to children but not to dramatise the situation.

Speaking from Oxfordshire, where he was self-isolating with his children, he said: "Most kids sort of know what is going on.

"I think the messages for children is that they are broadly safe - even if they get the virus.

"Their job is to stop other people from getting it.

"Tell them in the context of a chat and don't dramatise it."

Dr Davie said parents or carers should explain to children why they cannot meet up with friends and perhaps allow them "more time" with their friends online.

Depending on the age of children will change the content of that conversation, he told ITV News.

'A level of honesty is the best approach'

Joanna Thurston, a family support practitioner at Action for Children, mirrored Dr Davie's advice.

She said: "Parents will know their own child and what sort of information they can process.

"With most, if not all children, a level of honesty is the best approach.

"They know something is happening.

"Make sure you know all the facts and then put that information to them in an age appropriate way.

"Tell them things on a need-to-know basis.

"Condense that information into a way they can understand - and be open to questions, even if you don't have all the answers."

She added its important to focus on the positives and remind children that the strict measures which have been put in place are to protect vulnerable people, like many grandparents.

Beth Kerr of Cognita Schools gives some tips for parents whose children are not at school

There are three key things to remember as parents and children have their routine derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

That's according to Beth Kerr, the director for wellbeing at schools operator Cognita.

She told ITV News there are some vital tips to learn from the experiences of parents in Vietnam and Hong Kong, where some schools have been closed for two months.

These are:

  • A timetable - align your child with the school timetable. It's important to look at routines and getting up out of pyjamas

  • Exercise - you may have to be creative, but setting little challenges in a flat can make a difference

  • Space - having different work-zones, for example, and making sure you give yourself some emotional space.

Dr Davie echoes the advice that structuring your day in a way that is productive; including shared activities so when things do get stressful, you have relationships and connections to fall back on.

"In terms of particular activities, screen based activities aren't inherently bad. But it is important if you're in the house that you interact with each other," he said.

"Follow the guidance, get some structure, but don't panic about yourself.

"This will be a long one."

People are being advised to take precautions against Covid-19. Credit: PA

'Try to stick to advice but don't get worried about it'

Dr Davie said: "All the advice around coronavirus is do everything as much as practical.

"On the one hand, people should bear in mind the advice and care about it, on the other they shouldn't be getting worried about sticking to the letter of the advice.

"It's about minimising risk whilst managing to cope. Decide a way what is practical but isn't unmanagable."

With families living in different households unable to meet up, Dr Davie told ITV News: "There are ways and means of staying in touch, through online connections.

"Older people might need to get better at using phones, so you can physically see them.

"You could write them a letter, draw them a picture to tell them how you are feeling."

He emphasised, there are ways of staying in touch that "don't require physical contact" reminding people that they could be a "carrier and spreader" of coronavirus without even realising it.

'It's okay to cry' at death of loved one

In the event of a loved one becoming sick or passing away, Action for Children advises to keep routines going, as they are "vital" for children.

"Give children stability," said Joanna Thurston, a family support practitioner at the charity.

"It's healthy to talk about their feelings.

"Creating memory boxes of the person who has died and talking about happy times together, writing them down with photos can help.

"They can still feel they have that connection.

"There are charities that can help with grief, but what you do at home is incredibly important.

"It's best to keep that transparency and say it's okay to cry about this."

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know