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How to talk to your kids about Coronavirus

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Credit: Dad 247 / Rhys Gregory

Even if you’re fortunate not to have been directly impacted by Coronavirus (Covid-19), it is starting to have a social impact on our daily lives.

As more stringent measures are implemented by Government to curb social movement, this is something we’re likely to see more of in the short term. Luckily, in health terms, early evidence suggests young people are less affected by the virus. Schools in Wales may not be shut (yet) either, but the impact that the virus is having on our routine isn’t being missed by our children.

Despite not telling my daughter, who is six, directly anything about the Coronavirus, she is starting to pick up on things such as:

  • Frequent trips to the supermarket and visiting multiple shops in one day
  • Conversations around the need for toilet roll, fresh bread and tinned items
  • Why her parents appear to be obsessed (more than usual) about washing hands
  • Staying indoors and having more time at home (which isn’t always a bad thing!)

They say it’s a once in a lifetime occurrence, so if it’s brand new to us parents, how on earth are we going to explain this to our children? Do we even need to?

Personally, I feel it’s important not to hide telling the truth to our children, but you need to think carefully before doing so. Consider their age, the tone that you use and the information that you share. They don’t need to know everything and we certainly don’t want to be giving them nightmares.

Children are quite clever at picking up on things, even if we feel we’re been really good to hide things from them. I had been trying to avoid using the word ‘Coronavirus’ in front of her, but she seems to know all about it. Perhaps from school or listening in on adult conversations? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, but as she has started to pick up on these changes, I thought I’d start with the basics and address ‘washing our hands’.

I can’t recall the original source of the post on Facebook, so I’m not claiming credit for this, but there is a video circulating online about using water, pepper and hand gel to show its impact on germs. It seems like a novel way to explain germs to children, so we gave it ago…

Credit: Dad247 / Rhys Gregory

What you need

  • A small clean bowl
  • Water (tap water will suffice)
  • Ground pepper
  • Hand gel or sanitiser

Credit: Dad247 / Rhys Gregory

Method

  1. Add the water to the bowl
  2. Grind up and sprinkle the pepper over the water
  3. Dip your finger into the bowl to see the pepper (germs) stick to your finger
  4. Now, put a small amount of hand gel on your finger and dip it back into the bowl
  5. Watch how the pepper (germs) disperse away from your finger

Overall, did it exactly what we wanted it to do. It isn’t complicated to do and it clearly demonstrated the impact of washing your hands. We tested this with both hand gel and sanitiser (alcohol based) and found the latter had the greatest effect. However, we’re mindful how increasingly difficult it is to get that in shops.

Although this worked brilliantly with a six-year-old, it may not address the questions that an older child may have. On Friday, I was sent a Corona Virus Guide for Children by Yoopies, an online childcare platform that boasts more than three million members.

The guide covers everything from the stages of prevention, the symptoms of Coronavirus and how it is transmitted, as well as plenty of tips on how to encourage good hygiene through play.

You can download a copy of the guide here.

Rhys Gregory
Editor of Wales247.co.uk

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