- Talk to Your Kids About the COVID-19 Outbreak: Dr. Sujata
The novel corona virus is a new virus that was first described in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It can infect all age groups but mortality of COVID-19 is high in the elderly, age group more than 65 years of and also young children. A good thing in paediatrics is that case fatality is less as compared to adults. Most of the cases of COVID-19 in children are mild disease like other viral infections. But there is a high probability; it can be fatal in children with underlying chronic diseases like heart disease, liver diseases, kidney diseases, malnutrition and children with immune deficiency. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread, some children may have questions and be experiencing increased fear. With extensive news coverage about the potentially deadly nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, children may develop fears about the risk to their own health and safety. Dr. Sujata Sanjay, gynaecologist and obstetrician, Sanjay Orthopedic, Spine and Maternity Centre, Dehradun said parents should listen to their children’s fears and not dismiss them. Before talking to kids about what they may be seeing on the news or hearing from their peers, parents should make sure they have an understanding of the virus first. The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious health concern for most people right now. But for kids taking in the news, fears surrounding it may be especially daunting. Dr. Sujata Sanjay advice parents approach the topic of the COVID-19 outbreak and talk to their kids about the potential risks. For kids who are already expressing concern, parents should make themselves available to help them work through those fears. Before talking to kids about what they may be seeing on the news or hearing from their peers, parents should make sure they have an understanding of the virus first. Dr. Sujata Sanjay said that “parents should inform their kids that what is known about the virus at this point that it is a respiratory virus and that the illness can be asymptomatic (no symptoms), or have symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Parents can use the example of comparing it to other viruses such as influenza, and talk about how hand hygiene is the most important thing to prevent the virus”. Dr Sujata added that parents should be teaching their kids to wash their hands for 20 seconds after bathroom use, before eating, and after going to public places. Also, they should avoid touching their mouths, eyes, and nose. Teach your child to cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or flexed elbow while coughing and sneezing. Dispose the used tissue immediately and wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub. Do not touch any objects or face after coughing or sneezing Parents should listen to their children’s fears and not dismiss them. She explained that this can be accomplished by practicing active listening. “Help them understand the facts rather than rumours about the virus when developmentally appropriate Parents should also check in with themselves and consider how their fears may be impacting their children.” Dr. Sujata said. If your child is starting to experience panic attacks or phobias surrounding corona virus or anything else? Dr. Sujata said: “A therapist might be the next step to helping you and/or your child work through these fears in a healthy way.” The important thing is to continue having open communication as a family. If your child is experiencing worries or concerns, you don’t want them keeping those in. Talk about those fears, rely upon the data currently have to assuage those fears when possible, and don’t be afraid to turn off the news if necessary. Clean the child’s toys’ floor and commonly touched objects at least once a day at home. Don’t allow your child to come in close contact with anyone who has a cold, fever or flu-like symptoms. Try to engage your child in indoor activities. Avoid outdoor activities as much possible but one can allow activities in the house premises. Children with fever, cough and running nose should not be allowed to meet others especially the elderly/grandparents. Keep them indoors as much as possible. Don’t forget to give a nutritious diet with plenty of water. Give citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit) and vegetables which are rich in vitamin C, vitamin D containing foods (cheese, egg yolks) and zinc-containing foods (legumes, lentils, beans, and nuts).