'Mom, what is the coronavirus?' With this question I was greeted a couple of days ago by my oldest daughter (8 years old) when I went to look for her in music class. I was surprised because he never talks to me about current affairs and I was also intrigued to discover how I had heard about this disease. Perhaps you also have to face this moment and, if you do not know what to answer, here are some tips on how to explain to children what coronavirus is.
When a child asks something directly, I think that you don't have to beat around the bush and look for the right words. We must give an answer to your query and never lie to them. And this is how I have tried to gather as much information as possible about the virus that started in Wuhan (China) a few weeks ago to explain it to my daughter in the simplest way for her.
- The first of all is not to alarm him
They do not have our critical capacity and can misinterpret what they hear and even exaggerate it. Sometimes, in the media, headlines can be 'exaggerated' and perhaps taken out of context and / or misrepresented. That is why it is important that you talk with them and that you reassure them so that they do not draw the wrong conclusions.
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- Tell them where it comes from
You have probably heard many things, so it is time to put everything in order. You can tell them that it is a virus that emerged in the Wuhan region (China), but that it is not new: it emerged more than 50 years ago! Tell them that, a priori, it is not dangerous and that it is treated effectively. It would also be good to tell them that viruses are changing and that this is a new modification that if people with respiratory diseases contract it, then it can be said that it is harmful.
- How can this disease spread
If your little one, as it happens to mine, is concerned that this infection reaches their country, city or town, you can show them the different forms of contagion so that they are aware that its spread is not so easy: through droplets of saliva produced when talking, coughing or sneezing ...
- Explain that it is good to take extreme hygiene measures for a while
And, in relation to the previous point, 'force' them to arrive at very strict hygiene measures in the coming weeks. Wash your hands with soap and water, use tissues to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, avoid visiting people with respiratory diseases, do not touch wild animals that may be on the street ...
- Listen to your doubts
Perhaps despite having given all this information (perhaps it is a lot), your child has doubts. It is time to solve them using a very clear and simple language. Make sure you have understood everything or almost everything; If this is not the case, let him know that he can keep asking you today or any other day.
And, above all, that in no case be afraid and do not stop doing anything for fear of contracting the coronavirus, and here, for example, it would be playing with a child from their school of Asian origin or going shopping at a local food store run by Chinese.
Our children live in this world and, even if we think they 'don't step on anything', they find out about everything! They listen to conversations in the supermarket while we do the shopping, they exchange experiences with other school children, they hear their teachers talking in the school corridors and, depending on which house they live in and with what standards, they watch the news.
As a general rule, my daughters are 'the queens of command'. They are the ones that set the pace of what is seen at home on television and, how could it be otherwise, children's channels abound: Clan TV, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon ... Rarely - perhaps when they get confused and his father or I zap - we put on the news for a while, but I have to admit that it is a practice that does not excite me much because only misfortunes come out.
It is not a matter of vetoing their information or putting them in a bubble so that they do not suffer, I simply think that each thing in due time and Exposing them to news such as terrorist attacks at the age of four and eight does not, in my opinion, give them anything. Another thing is to comment on events related to society and the moment they are living, such as the general elections of a country, the day of working women or the environment.
From my point of view, Before discussing sensitive topics with children, we must take into account the following issues:
- The age of the child. It is not the same, as in my case, my 4-year-old daughter is my 8-year-old daughter. Whatever I tell them, they will not process the same.
- Its maturational development. Your child may be 9-10 by now and into pre-adolescence, but perhaps he still maintains the innocence of a 7-8. Why force you if you don't have to?
- The subject we are going to discuss. There are many sensitive topics that require your preparation. Death, the Magi, sexuality ...
- The moment chosen to keep the talk. What if the child does not feel like talking at that moment? Both parties have to be prepared to speak.
- The person who will be with him. Are you the 'expert' person to deal with this particular issue or perhaps should your father, someone else in the family environment or, perhaps, someone from outside?
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