With recent news and media coverage about the coronavirus, many children are being exposed to information that may make them feel scared and confused.
Some Wagga experts have offered some tips on the how to help children understand COVID-19 and its effects.
General practitioner and mental health expert Jonathan Ho said parents and carers had an important role in helping children understand what is happening by providing age-appropriate information and answering their questions.
"It's a common thought that talking to your child or children about distressing topics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can upset them more," Dr Ho said.
"However, this is actually not the case. If you let your children talk about their fears and try to answer their questions in an honest and calm way, you can help them understand what is happening which helps children cope better during stressful times.
"Try to use language that your child will understand and stick with the facts. Let them know that this is only a temporary situation and things will get better with time."
Dr Ho said with most media about COVID-19 aimed at an adult audience, he encouraged parents and carers to be mindful of exposure to television, radio and social media. Limiting these sources of information can help protect children from hearing too much complex information which they are unable to process properly.
"The most important thing to remember is that you know your child best and you know how much information they will be able to understand and handle," he said.
Wagga psychologist Anne Flood says individual children would be affected by the coronavirus situation in different ways.
Dr Flood said it was inevitable children were going to pick up on concerns, not only from the media, but also from other family members.
It is perfectly normal to expect children to be thinking and talking about what is going on, she said.
"it's important they can speak to you about their concerns and it's important for parents not to be afraid to talk to their children about the coronavirus," Dr Flood said.
"It's important we don't dismiss anything they are saying and that we avoid saying 'you should do this or should not do this'.
"We need to answer their questions their questions in an honest and an age-appropriate way, so that you can reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing."
If you're concerned about your child's wellbeing, you can call:
- your GP
- Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or visit kidshelpline.com.au
- Headspace on 1800 650 890 or visit headspace.org.au
- Parent Line NSW on 1300 1300 52 or visit www.parentline.org.au
- Headspace Wagga Wagga on 6923 3170 or Griffith on 6962 3277
- Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network's central access and navigation service on 1800 931 603
- Murrumbidgee AccessLine on 1800 800 94
If you have symptoms of coronavirus:
- Those suffering acute, cold, flu-like symptoms who have recently returned from travelling or are a contact of a confirmed case are urged to be tested for the virus. To do this, call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 to be triaged and advised by a nurse over the phone. Alternatively, contact your GP to book an appointment and let them know in advance if you have symptoms - these might include fever, cough, runny nose or shortness of breath.
- The MLHD COVID-19 hotline is open seven days a week, from 7am to 9pm. The number to call for assessment is 1800 831 099.
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