“Why are so many of my friends falling sick?”
It’s been over two years into the global pandemic, and if you have children, chances are they would be fairly aware of the current situation. Schools have done their best to keep students up-to-date on the latest happenings, but does your child feel reassured? Does he or she know the reason behind the ongoing measures?
Here’s how to talk about it.
What does your child already know?
Ask questions suited to your child’s age. Ask them questions like “What do you want to know about the virus,” “Where did you hear this information from,” or “Do you know why XXX is happening?”
Take some time to hear your child out. This is just a quick check to establish where your starting point is and if your child has been picking up accurate information.
Be honest but reassuring
Now to get a little deeper.
Be open and truthful but try to ensure your child feels safe. While you may be worried (with your loved ones at risk of falling ill, who wouldn’t be), do your best to not alarm them. If a tricky question is brought up, just share that you do not have the answer and suggest that you both look it up together – this would also teach your child how to source for reliable information.
Be real about it as well. It is true that the virus is infectious and anyone may fall ill. It’s natural for your child to be worried. They may be confused about needing to be vaccinated but still being at risk of falling sick. Do let your child know that you will always do your best to keep them safe, and every precaution taken can go a long way. There has been research showing that children experience milder symptoms than adults – this could reassure them.
The healthcare infrastructures across the world vary, as does the readiness of vaccine supplies. Though you may not be able to promise your child immediate care by a doctor or nurse if he/she should fall sick, explain that the current strain (or “type”) of virus is less scary than before and serious illness in children is fairly rare.
Help your child feel confident
So what’s next? Your child is aware of the risks and what has been done so far. Can he/she do any more to feel safer?
Teach your child specific things to do to have a sense of security. Take this opportunity to cultivate good hygiene habits! For example, frequent and complete hand-washing protects them and those around as well. Keeping hands away from faces is also another way of reducing the virus’ spread.
In addition to protecting themselves, your child may worry about the safety of loved ones – you, grandparents, close friends. Use this opportunity to connect them with the grandparents to have frequent chats. And to reiterate the earlier point, reassure your child that you are also doing the best you can to keep yourself safe, and not to worry about you.
Keep checking in
Lastly, continue the conversation with your child. When there are new developments in the COVID-19 situation, let them know, process and ask you questions.
Talking about their concerns may not solve all problems but it would be a great start.