Dr Ranj: How to talk to your children about coronavirus
The Prime Minister’s news of a lockdown is a lot for anyone to take in - let alone the younger members of our families.
So how can we help them make sense of it all? Dr Ranj is here to help, and today he's focussing on children between the ages of six and ten.
Don’t lie, but approach the subject softly.
Dr Ranj says: At this age, it’s worthwhile asking them what their opinions are - while keeping your replies simple and honest. Ask them what they want to know, and what they’re worried about, but there’s no need to tell them EVERYTHING in case they get scared.
ASSESS WHAT THEY ALREADY KNOW
Before bringing up the topic, you should find out what they already know. As primary school pupils, it’s likely they have a certain knowledge of the virus.
Dr Ranj says: They’ve probably heard about the virus - so it’s important to clarify what it is, and why it’s having an effect on our lives. At this age, children are more scientifically minded - so it might be a good idea to teach them about germs in a fun way. They are independent too - so giving them the knowledge on how to wash their hands properly is good too.
TALK TO THEM ABOUT SCHOOL
It’s important to explain why their normal routine might change - including explaining why they won’t be able to see their friends, or go to school.
Dr Ranj says: Explain to your children why they can’t do their normal routine, and set some sort of familiar routine instead whilst they’re at home. As parents, it’s important to remember not to stress about home-schooling - as this will rub off on your children. Instead, concentrate your energy on setting a productive routine at home. Having structure is extremely important at this age.
KEEPING THEM OCCUPIED WHILE SCHOOL’S OUT
- If they have been given set homework, continue to complete it in a fun way- Try and do ‘classes’ with them as they would in school, like arts and crafts and cookery- Spend time outside if you can. Getting some fresh air is the easiest way to keep everyone in the house active and avoiding cabin fever.- Do a PE class in your front room, to make sure your children are still getting exercise
Dr Ranj says: Two hours of learning is quite significant. So don’t worry about sticking to a proper 9-3 routine. Keep the activities varied from educational tasks to creative ones. Takes breaks in between. Set boundaries like there would be at school. However, keep in mind that they are used to their home being a place of relaxation.
TIPS FOR CHILDREN AGED 7-10
- Take cues from your child. At this age, your child is more aware of what’s going on. Invite your child to tell you anything they may have heard about the coronavirus, and how they feel. - Stick to a routine. Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy.- Be mindful of how you respond. If a child asks, “Why are so many people buying everything in the store?” a parent should be honest, but remain positive, “People are concerned that they may not have enough stuff at home. We have plenty of stuff”.- Reduce the amount of screen time. Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.- Teach them about the science of it. Teach them about sneezing and coughing. Make hand washing fun, by singing the happy birthday song.