Whenever you are talking to your children about traumatic or worrying events it is always best to start out with what they think they know about the situation.
First, make sure that you are in a comfortable safe space and that all phones and interruptions can be minimised. Then ask them to explain what they know, and then use this information to ‘fact-check’ what they have told you. Make some notes as they are talking so that you show them that you are listening to them and to allow you to form appropriate responses to each piece of information.
Next, ask them to tell you what parts of the events worry them most and be mindful of these worries in your answers, taking care to reassure them as best you can. When responding to our childrens’ real-life event anxieties, psychologists recommend that being honest while being cognisant of their age in how we phrase our answers, is the best policy.
If you don’t have an answer or are unsure of the right way to approach a particular question, simply ask your child if you can check the answer and agree a time to get back to them. When you have finished exploring all of the facts and worries, promise your child that they can come back and ask more questions at any time and you will do your best to answer them.
The spread and new variants of the coronavirus continue to worry us, so be sure to validate your child’s feelings and do not dismiss them. However, it is a virus that is also very similar to one we know and understand - the flu virus. Just like the flu virus, people with health conditions, the very old and the very young are at the highest risk. But just like the flu virus, we play a very important role in stopping the infection. Arm your child with antibacterial hand gel, tissues, and their own personal towel if your school does not have warm air dryers. Empower them to be a part of the solution to combat the coronavirus whether that is as a super hero or cleaning expert.
In 2020, RTE News2Day children’s programme tackled some of the viewers questions live on their recent show - Watch here as Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, was in studio to provide the answers.