Virus and disease 6 ways to talk about it with children

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Daily life is shaken, daycare centers and schools are closed, parents suddenly become more interested in news. It’s normal for the little ones to ask questions about the coronavirus. How to talk about the disease and answer your child’s questions? Here are 7 tracks.

“Mom, can we go grocery shopping?” It was a question from my daughter, obviously out of ideas for activities, on the second day of her quarantine. ” No? So are we going to the pool? Or at the library? It is not easy to explain to a 4-year-old child that you have to limit outings and that you cannot invite friends home because of a virus. How to do?

1. Don’t hide the truth
In adults, fear can lead to a form of denial or avoidance. With children, it is better not to pretend that nothing had happened. After a few days of hectic routine, they will have many questions anyway.

To answer it as best as possible, we avoid lying or inventing that it is a vacation or that the teachers are on strike, for example. Rather, we try to find a short, simple, and emotionless message. You could say something like, “There is a virus running right now. We try to avoid it so as not to give it to the grandparents who are more fragile. “

2. Do not get ahead of the child
Even if we try to answer the questions, we try not to overload our young people with information. The under 7s, especially, do not always have the notions to clearly distinguish the nuances of a crisis or a complex situation.

We are therefore content to respond in a very concrete way to the question asked, without speculating or adding superfluous information.

Good to know: children are especially interested in themselves and their immediate surroundings. So let’s focus on the news that affects these areas.

3. Provide tools “empuissancement” ( empowering ) youth
By giving our children away to be useful, we reassure them. We can, therefore, explain to them why it is important to stay at home or why they have to wash their hands more often than usual. By doing these things, they help protect the population.

It is also a good opportunity to explain that prevention is a measure of solidarity. That if the coronavirus is not generally serious for young people, it can be so for people with more fragile health, and that our duty is to protect them.

4. Talk about the positive too
Even when the situation is serious, the parent can try to find positive or reassuring aspects. For example, you could say that all of society is mobilized, that there is a great surge of solidarity, that the doctors are there to treat us if we are sick.

We can also talk about very simple things that seem obvious to us. Like the fact that we will always be there for our child and that we will protect him, as explained by psychologist Nicolas Chevrier on the website Naître et grandir .

Finally, we can add that most people are coping with the virus. That they are taken care of, well cared for. That severe cases are not common.

5. Set a good example
Even if we don’t necessarily tell our children about our fears, it’s a safe bet that they might feel them. We admit: this idea is hyper-responsible for parents … But by putting very concrete means in place, we can break this “spiral of fear”.

The best way is to limit the time of exposure to information at home. Do not leave the TV open all day on a continuous news channel. Do not comment on our reading of the newspaper in front of our children. Don’t rush to our phones every time a new notification arrives.

6. Use playful means
We love the author and illustrator Élise Gravel. She has put online an educational comic called “What is coronavirus? »Which can be downloaded free of charge.

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