Communication and Connection Tips during COVID-19

Posted : 17 April 2020

By Mr Jon Wright, Counsellor and Miss Adele Crane, Director of Student Wellbeing

Most children are aware of the changes occurring because of COVID-19. They have been
affected by off-campus learning, cancelled sport and birthday parties and not being able to
spend time with grandparents. Some would also be aware of a lot of information about the
virus circulating online, in the media and from friends. Keeping communication open with your
children and helping them stay connected to others in important to help them navigate this
time and alleviate anxiety.

Here are some tips for talking to your child about what is happening:

  1. Don’t be afraid to talk about the pandemic with your children and answer their questions in an honest and age-appropriate way.
  2. Ask them what they already know so you can clarify any misunderstandings they may have. Don’t overwhelm them with unnecessary information (such as death rates) as this can increase their anxiety.
  3. Reassure them that COVID-19 is less common and severe in children. Present the facts and don’t add speculations that may be presented in the media. This is your chance to ensure your child is not focusing on fear building elements of the situation.
  4. Share age-appropriate information. Younger children may understand how not to get sick and who we as a society need most to protect such as elder grandparents. Older children may understand how vaccinations work, what ‘flattening the curve’ means and why that is important.
  5. Focus on some of the positive things that are happening; people being kind and helping others in the community, that scientists around the world are working together to create a vaccine and that lots of people are recovering from the virus each day.

Your children will look to you for cues on how to manage their own worries, so it is important to stay calm and manage your own anxieties before bringing up the subject with them and answering their questions. People pick up on the stress of others, and children can particularly sense the stress of their parents. Do your best to not share your anxieties, set the tone that is helpful for your family by modelling this to those around you.

During this time allow regular contact through technology with people they may worry about, such as grandparents, family friends and their peers to reassure them that they are okay. In the past, you may have had limitations and boundaries for the amount of technology and online time for your children, you may need to revisit this at this point as it provides such a valuable tool for connection and entertainment. Remember that there are lots of non-technology things you can do as well and that technology is not needed for everything!

Limit their exposure to media reports and try to be with your child when they are watching, listening or reading the news so you can address concerns they may have. Younger children can especially find it hard to put information in context so hearing and seeing too many images may escalate their fears. You may wish to keep your news listening and watching until after your child is in bed.

Reassure your child of what is being done, of things that have been learnt and the ‘good news’ stories that are happening. There are also lots of fun, creative clips and initiatives available as people embrace their creativity and humour to share with all through technology.

Are you interested in learning more? These links below may be of help.

  1. This is a very helpful explanation of the coronavirus that is aimed at Prep School-aged children - Hello! I’m a Virus.
  2. This clip by Michael Carr-Grieg is helpful to watch if you want more information. School TV Special Coronavirus Edition.
  3. The link from UNICEF also provides further great advice.