How to talk to children about COVID-19 age appropriate guide
Talking to Foster kids about Covid-19
An age appropriate parent guide for helping kids understand Coronavirus
Addressing COVID-19 by Age: How to talk to Foster children about Covid-19 virus with an age appropriate approach, conversations should be age-appropriate and presented so that the child will understand the message that is relayed.
For children who are in preschool, there are many creative ways to explain COVID-19 and how to prevent the virus. Parents or caregivers should encourage children to focus on good health behaviors such as covering their mouths with their elbow when coughing or sneezing and frequently washing their hands for the recommended 20 seconds. Now, we all know that no one wants to count to 20 seconds every time they wash their hands, so it may be best to be original with it by singing a song for 20 seconds. “Happy Birthday” is an all-time favorite as it is known to most. At this age, children also like to work off a rewards system. So, every time the child successfully washes their hands or covers their mouth during a cough or sneeze, a sticker can be placed on a rewards chart to track their behaviors. Creating visuals for children, such as using puppets or dolls for demonstrating the appropriate symptoms of the virus and how to handle those who are sick, is creative and fun. We also know that children like to interact with others very closely as they thrive on human interaction. Therefore, we need to encourage children to sit further apart from one another by having them practice stretching their arms out to show how you should distance yourself from others.
At this age, children can voice their concerns and ask appropriate questions. We must answer these questions and listen to the children. This may be a difficult time for them, so encourage them to voice their opinions. Also, introduce the different concepts to remain safe such as wearing masks, social distancing (6 feet apart), and washing their hands for 20 seconds. Demonstrating how quickly the virus can be spread and the importance of washing hands can be useful for younger children. This can be done by spraying colored water into the air to show how quickly germs spread or put cooking oil on the child’s hands and try to wash with just water first and then using soap. Giving scenarios in which healthy behaviors are practiced, or high-risk behaviors that need to be adjusted can also help during this time.
Students start to understand more about the virus during this time and have more detailed questions that need to be answered. Continue to discuss with children ways to keep themselves safe by wearing a mask, washing their hands, and social distancing. Please encourage them to model these behaviors at home, as well. Allow children to be more inventive by creating small projects that discuss the importance of promoting public health. This could include making posters for the school that promote using healthy behaviors. Finally, teachers and parents should try to have lessons on public health into other subjects such as Science or Social Studies to discuss the history of illnesses.
Once in upper secondary school or high school, parents and teachers should only need to reiterate what was discussed and demonstrated in the previous years. Continue to stress the importance of appropriate health precautions such as wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, and covering mouths with their elbow when sneezing or coughing. It is vital to allow children to express themselves and ask questions about the virus. Healthy behaviors can be enhanced by using creative methods to bring these points home and get the word out to others. A COVID-19 checklist for students can be viewed at: WHO.int
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