The Official College of Psychology of Madrid , through the Section of Clinical Psychology, Health and Psychotherapy, wants to transmit a series of guidelines aimed at parents, professionals and relatives of boys and girls, aimed at promoting adequate coping with the Coronavirus-Covid outbreak 19.
These recommendations are adapted for children from 4 to 10 years old, since at younger ages the idea is more abstract and requires a simpler adaptation. From the age of 10 they understand more complex concepts, without the need to make adaptations as concrete as in this evolutionary stage.
Taking into account the uncertainty regarding the evolution of the outbreak in Spain, and that day by day we are facing a new situation, it is also appropriate to adapt the information that we transfer. For this reason, we must give the importance it deserves to the prevention of virus transmission and hygiene measures, also reducing alarm situations that affect minors.
How to explain it to him?
Children are not miniature adults, but they have a series of psychological, evolutionary and emotional characteristics that adults must know, to understand them, and that they can also understand us, offering them adequate and adapted information.
Go to official sources and look for information verified by experts: Ministry of Health, Professional Health Associations, Official Organizations, WHO, etc.
Ask them what information they know, possible doubts or fears related to the virus, as well as erroneous information they have heard or misinterpreted.
Clarify any doubts you may have, in a simple way, and transmitting calm and security.
What to explain to them?
Don’t wait for them to ask to talk to them.
Correct erroneous or misinterpreted information.
Be honest that this is a dangerous virus because it is easily spread, and therefore we must protect ourselves from it.
Report the most frequent symptoms: fever, cough and feeling of shortness of breath.
Report that most cases recover (80%), but the elderly are the ones who should take the most care of this virus.
Give security and confidence by informing them that there are many health professionals to cure, understand the virus, reduce its risks and find a vaccine.
Don’t ignore your fears or doubts.
Use language adapted to the child’s age and knowledge.
Understand that if we do not explain it well they will resort to fanciful arguments to compensate for the lack of information.
Talk frequently about it without saturating them with too much information. Standardize talking about it without it being a taboo subject.
Promote meeting spaces for communication with them, where they feel safe and calm to express, listen and ask
Avoid referring to people who are very ill or have died.
Be honest and avoid long explanations, answering your questions or fears that they may have.
Transmit that they can express their doubts and trust us.
If we don’t have all the answers, to be honest, maybe we can look for answers together.
Use drawings or simple graphic representations to explain how the contagion occurs (for example, that he was born in China, that he likes to travel a lot, and that at the moment, Italy and Spain are two countries that he likes a lot, ..).
It is a good time to transmit hygiene measures for life! We must follow the recommendations and prevention measures determined by the health authorities and trust them because they know what they have to do, since they have the knowledge and the means.
Give them the super power to protect themselves
Wash your hands with soap while making up a song about the virus, say a multiplication table, or count from 20 to 0 backwards, rubbing vigorously on the surface and sides.
When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow flexed or with a disposable handkerchief that we throw away “as if it were a magic karate key to protect us against bad viruses.”
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth “like a game in which someone who loses a point”.
Avoid physical contact with other children or other people, even if I feel like playing or touching the other person. This will only be for a short time, we will be able to hug or touch my friends again very soon.
Know that you can count on an adult if you are not physically well or there is something that concerns you.
Show care in how we relate to other people, avoiding behaviors of rejection or discrimination. Our fear can cause us to behave inappropriately, rejecting or discriminating against certain people.
Although we may not realize it, they are watching us and learning, let us give an example of preventive hygiene and health measures and calm.
Recommendations for parents
Follow the previous recommendations, and also:
The most important thing is to stay calm and know how to manage stress.
Watch our conversations with other adults, or other adults, boys and girls listen to us and perceive our fear.
Do not be alarmed or stimulate fear. To be realistic, the vast majority of people are healing.
Protecting them from all the information you can may cause them discomfort and concern because they may not interpret the information well. Keep in mind that the information on social networks is usually superficial, incomplete or erroneous.
Prevent them from browsing the internet alone looking for inappropriate information about the Covid 19.
Give assurance about the health status of the adults in their environment, such as grandparents, inform them that they know how to protect themselves and take care of themselves. If they tend to see other relatives frequently and due to the virus, the visits have decreased, promoting virtual contacts.
If they don’t go to school
During the period of time that minors will be without going to the educational center, extracurricular activities or other activities, it is important to plan ahead and inform them about it.
Maintain the usual family schedules and habits, avoiding that this situation alters the order, structure and security that routines give.
Promote time for free play, sports, body movement, even leaving time for boredom.
Get into a habit of schedules, tasks and responsibility based on their age, dedicating daily time to reading, homework or intellectual stimulation.
Differentiate between the hours and routines of a weekday during those of the weekend.
Find the best way to reconcile work and family life by organizing the schedules with the other parent, family, or other supports, if any.
Take advantage of this situation to spend more time of enjoyment and leisure with the family, something so necessary and usually scarce