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Posted on: March 18, 2020

Tips for Supporting Children During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

There may be children or young people in your life who experience distress. As a trusted adult, you can help reassure and educate them about COVID-19 – it can be good to talk to them now, so they can understand the illness and be reassured.

If you feel the child or young person is getting distressed through this conversation, reassure them and end it. Children react to stress differently than adults – they may withdraw or behave in a more ‘babyish’ way, seem anxious or clingy, be preoccupied with illness in their play or drawing, have problems sleeping or nightmares, or may get physical symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches. Here are some tips for supporting children and young people:

  • Reassure them they are safe.
  • Encourage them to talk about how they feel. 
  • Tell them they can ask questions and answer in plain language appropriate to their age. Be honest but avoid details that may cause them anxiety.
  • Tell them that feeling upset or afraid is normal, it’s good to talk about it & they’ll feel better soon.
  • Be understanding - they may have problems sleeping, throw tantrums or wet the bed. With support & care, it will pass. 
  • Give extra love and attention.
  • Remember children look to their parents to feel safe & know how to respond. Share that you are upset too but know that you will be fine together.  
  • Try to keep normal routines. 

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