From one mum to another: How to calmly chat to your little ones about COVID-19

So, a conversation surrounding Covid-19 seems to be inevitable. Even if we would like to avoid household hysteria, our kiddos are arriving home from school with god knows what kinds of rumours and it's our job to clear them up. Separating the truth from the misinformation can be a tough one, but it's now time to step up and take control of the conversation.

Don't give them anything more than they ask for…

The last thing we want to do is give our children ammunition to spread further hysteria (my five-year-old is already a culprit of this) don't go into details they don't ask for- think of it as the sex talk. Answer questions until they are satisfied with the answers and then leave it.

Stick to the science

Unless you are an expert in virology or immunology, give them facts, rather than your personal opinion. Go to a trusted website like the NHS for your info. Give them an age-appropriate breakdown of what you read, again until they are happy. I have made the mistake of reading out a dodgy, forwarded WhatsApp message in front of my five-year-old. Luckily, she was busy training to be a Jedi so no drama, but it was a close call!

Always reassure!

Watch those facial expressions. Even if you are the nervous type (guilty) your little ones don’t need to know. As far as they are concerned, they can head about their normal little day if you tell them all is well. Though it is not recommended to lie, you can explain the current situation in a way that won’t cause them any anxiety. No one knows your kids better than you so go with your gut on this.

Nip hysteria in the bud

My daughter arrived home from after-school, claiming Coronavirus was a bug that ate you from the inside out. How gorgeous. She later answered ‘ten million’ when her aunt wondered aloud how many people had died from the virus. Class A fact-checking, for sure.

The most important thing is not to entertain nonsense. Explain to them what a rumour is, and how to differentiate between rumours and the truth. Tell them the facts and make sure they know not to take the crazy things they hear in school, seriously. I had this very chat with my daughter after her matter-of-fact reporting, during which I explained to her the damage she could do by fibbing- it worked!

Push hand-washing 

Yes, by now we are saying it in our sleep: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, sneeze into your elbow…

Whether or not you truly believe that washing your hands constantly will prevent the spread of COVID-19, this whole hand-washing thing is an absolute blessing. Think of the lasting impact it might have on your kid's personal hygiene. I don't know about other families, but my kid is completely gross and could do with a little push to improve her hygiene routine.

If you have any more mum-to-mum advice on how to navigate this uncharted territory, do share!

Anna Murray is an Irish student mum to one little girl.

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