A free information book explaining the coronavirus to children, illustrated by Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler
Axel Scheffler has illustrated a digital book for primary school age children, free for anyone to read on screen or print out, about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. Published by Nosy Crow, and written by staff within the company, the book has had expert input: Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine acted as a consultant, and the company also had advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist.
The book answers key questions in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds:
• What is the coronavirus?
• How do you catch the coronavirus?
• What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
• Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
• Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
• Why are some places we normally go to closed?
• What can I do to help?
• What’s going to happen next?
The book is offered totally free of charge to anyone who wants to read it. However, it is suggested, at the back of the book, that families might make a donation to help our health service if they find the book useful: https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/.
Each year teachers ask children to do a 'Stress Bucket' activity.
We ask the children to write down all the things they are anxious, or concerned about in the bucket and then think about which things they can change, what they can’t change and need to accept, what they should do urgently and who can help them. It seems to me that it might be a very useful thing to do with your children and perhaps you would find it beneficial to do for yourself?
Offer Comfort — and Honesty
Focus on helping your child feel safe, but be truthful. Don't offer more detail than your child is interested in. For example, if children ask about school closings, address their questions. But if the topic doesn't come up, there's no need to raise it unless it happens.
Speak calmly and reassuringly. Explain that most people who get sick feel like they have a cold or the flu. Children pick up on it when parents worry. So when you talk about Coronavirus and the news, use a calm voice and try not to seem upset.
Give children space to share their fears. It's natural for children to worry, "Could I be next? Could that happen to me?" Let your child know that children don’t seem to get as sick as adults. Let them know they can always come to you for answers or to talk about what scares them.
Know when they need guidance. Be aware of how your children get news and information, especially older children who go online. Point them to age-appropriate content so they don't end up finding news shows or outlets that scare them or have incorrect information.
Help children Feel in Control
Give your child specific things they can do to feel in control. Teach children that getting lots of sleep and washing their hands well and often can help them stay strong and well. Explain that regular hand washing also helps stop viruses from spreading to others. Be a good role model and let your children see you washing your hands often!
Talk about all the things that are happening to keep people safe and healthy. Young children might be reassured to know that hospitals and doctors are prepared to treat people who get sick. Older children might be comforted to know that scientists are working to develop a vaccine.
Put news stories in context. If they ask, explain that death from the virus is still rare, despite what they might hear. Watch the news with your kids so you can filter what they hear.
Children and teens often worry more about family and friends than themselves. For example, if children hear that older people are more likely to be seriously ill, they might worry about their grandparents. Letting them call or Skype with older relatives can help them feel reassured about loved ones.
Let your children know that it's normal to feel stressed out at times. Everyone does. Recognising these feelings and knowing that stressful times pass and life gets back to normal can help children build resilience.
Keep the Conversation Going
Keep checking in with your child. Use talking about coronavirus as a way to help children learn about their bodies, like how the immune system fights off disease.
Talk about current events with your children often. It's important to help them think through stories they hear about. Ask questions: What do you think about these events? How do you think these things happen? Such questions also encourage conversation about non-news topics.
The following video clips are also useful resources for children:
Coronavirus: Your questions answered
Adults have a key role in helping children understand what is going on, providing information and reassurance, limiting media overload for children, and being aware of how their own reactions might impact on children.
Here is a short leaflet to give health professionals, educational professionals, parents and early years providers an informed understanding of children’s understanding at different developmental stages.
WARRINGTON LOCAL AUTHORITY ADVICE:
What to do if you need urgent help for your mental health:
If you are in a mental health crisis and you need urgent help, please call the new crisis line on 01925 275 309 and NHS staff will support you to get the
help you need.
The crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to people of all ages, including children and young people.
The crisis line is now the first port of call for Warrington residents experiencing a mental health crisis. The line is operated by people in the local area who will know how best to support you. If you call NHS 111 you may have to wait longer for help and will be redirected to this local service.
Please note, A&E and 999 are not the best places to get help for the majority of mental health problems. Call the crisis line, to be directed to the best local service to support you.
You should still call 999 or go to A&E if you have a life-threatening emergency and need immediate help for your mental or physical health.
For non-urgent help and general wellbeing advice, North West Boroughs Healthcare’s website contains information and links to resources to support people with anxiety, low-mood, and worries relating to the current Covid-19 pandemic: www.nwbh.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
More information about the new mental health crisis helpline can be found at: www.nwbh.nhs.uk
Warrington’s Happy? OK? Sad? site
The local mental health site www.happyoksad.org.uk also has information about a wide range of local and national mental health support services, as well as links to evidence-based resources to help you look after your mental wellbeing and feel good. The Happy? OK? Sad? Site was developed for people who live or work in Warrington.