How to talk about Coronavirus with your children?

Faced with the Covid-19 epidemic, it is important to address children using appropriate words, while making them aware of the right actions to adopt in this health crisis. State-certified psychologist Sophie Bernard Viau and L'Officiel give some useful recommendations.
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Internationally, the current context is very anxiety-provoking. The government of a majority of countries is turning to quarantine, and the world seems to be spinning. The youngest are also affected, deprived of school, going out with their friends, and confined at home to their parents. This unprecedented situation necessarily plunges them into suspicion as to what is hidden under the strange term of Coronavirus. How to address them without too much clumsiness? Should we treat them as adults or opt for a minimal explanation? Here are three essential rules to turn to in the event of a panic.


Keep calm

Very often, the situation is more frightening for parents, who also transmit their fears to children. Monsérat, a 48-year-old mother, admits that she has not yet dared to speak out with her 13-year-old daughter. "I talk to her about barrier gestures but I'm not going to discuss the subject of the Coronavirus myself. I am sufficiently anxious, and do not wish to communicate this insecurity to her. Fortunately, the school has already done its prevention work and has opened up dialogue with young people." The anxiety is so viral, so do not hesitate to share positive messages. “I am lucky because my husband puts the situation into perspective and delivers a very reassuring speech to our daughter. He maintains that we are adopting the right actions and that this pandemic will quickly weaken thanks to our collective efforts." A constructive vision promoted by Sophie Bernard Viau OF psychologist and master certified coach. “First of all, it is necessary to measure the impact of the mind on anxiety. Sending good thoughts will not only help protect themselves, but also protect others." In short, you must complete a step back from yourself and the situation. This also encourages child to verbalize emotions.


Dialogue for the key word

Keep in mind that the approach to the subject will be different depending on the age of each child. The important thing is to put yourself at your level, adopting a simple language and within reach. If your child does not question himself excessively, there is no need to alarm him upstream. Obviously, each young person will naturally begin to wonder why the schools are closed, or why we are no longer allowed to go out freely. If your child requests you, adapt your speech to his. Sophie recommends starting by asking him what he understands of the current situation. "Ask him how he feels, how he perceives it. "It will then be de-dramatize the situation. The psychologist encourages each parent to suggest that their child give a name to the Coronavirus, like “Coco virus” or “Peanut virus” . Then do not hesitate to involve him: take figurines or a book, and imagine a tale to tell him of which he could be the hero. “Take the metaphor of the bear, for example. He visited his grandparents every day until Coco Virus roamed his village. To counter the meanness of the virus, the bear uses its cunning to keep in touch. He sends letters, calls them from home, uses Skype, etc. ” A roundabout method of sending a reassuring message to your child with lightness.


Adopt a fun pedagogy

There is no point in dramatizing the situation more than it is. Conversely, take advantage of these circumstances to make your child aware of these simple barrier gestures, which will be useful today and in the future. If he can initially be reluctant, launch a challenge within the family. “Make him choose a shape: heart, star, round, square. Cut out this shape on a paper and set up a system of good points. With each barrier gesture made its right point. At the end of the day, whoever collects the most papers will be entitled to a reward. This entertaining system will allow each young person to no longer balk at washing their hands. If the key to the effort is a candy, a piece of chocolate, or another celebration of your choice, be certain that the health rules that you have imposed will certainly be respected. The key is to know how to inject some fun into it, without forgetting to communicate to your child the positive consequences that this ritual will have.


In conclusion, do not hesitate to always bet on the positive side of this situation, as unusual as it may seem. This confinement necessarily delivers a message, you just have to put it in perspective in the face of all this and take advantage of it. At its end, what will you keep in memory of this quarantine? Perhaps you will decide to spend more time with your child, to re-establish more dialogue within your family, or even to review your health habits. This particular context has a vocation: to raise awareness. It can be a revelation, like finding out how important your loved ones are to you. You can also see there the opportunity to reinstall real values at the center of your daily life. “Each morning, my daughter started a homework and review session with her friends on social media. She who toiled so much today seems happy to find them through this. With the ban on going out, she also discovered new passions: drawing, but also cooking, since she makes us recipes at the rate of one cake per day! " Notes Monsérat with joy. New hobbies, but also behaviors since the Coronavirus encourages us to think of others. The dimensions of compassion and empathy are now key words in everyday life, which it is essential to instill in your child. Putting health first, being in favor of the present moment or transmitting positive energy beyond one's own person: this is what your offspring will remember from this epidemic.

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