If a child shows altered behaviour as a result of measures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, there are a number of steps parents should take, according to the support group KJT
The national helpline for children and families has issued advice to help people through the coronavirus self-isolation period.
Kanner jugend telefon (KJT), which offers an English speaking online service, reminded parents that children perceive the self-isolation situation differently, and seeing people in protective suits and masks could be stressful.
If a child shows altered behaviour such as nervousness, aggressiveness, sleeping problems, attachment or physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches or nausea, KJT said that parents can respond by:
Being there for your child, offering proximity
Offering a structured daily routine
If possible encouraging physical activity (cycling, playing ball) and spending time in the fresh air (while respecting a distance from other people)
Ensuring healthy nutrition (stockpiling groceries is not necessary)
Creating space to relax and play
Reducing confrontation with media reporting to a minimum
Explaining the situation to the child
Showing the child how to protect itself (hygiene measures)
Talking about the positive in this situation, for instance, people doing their best to help the infected to recover, neighbours helping one other, medical staff, garbage collectors, supermarket staff working to keep everything as normal as possible, focusing on the cases/numbers that are well or have recovered/the sick that come through the disease well
How do I explain the situation to my child/children?
Be patient, listen attentively when your child talks about their preoccupations
Answer questions honestly and tell them when you don't know something. Consider together where to get the information (look for trustworthy sources, like the health directorate)
Communicate facts, explain in a child-oriented manner how to prevent infection, how to proceed if a family member or child shows symptoms. Explain what is being done to help the person and prevent it from spreading. Ensure that as a parent you are well informed and be wary of possible misinformation being spread for example through social media posts
Explain why you are worried/stressed yourself
Explain why visits to family and friends are not possible now
Making movement possible for your child is important during this period of self-isolation/quarantine. Photo: Shutterstock
What do I do in quarantine?
Explain what quarantine is/means and that it is a protective measure
Enable contact/exchange with family members/friends via phone, internet, social media or Skype, for instance
Accept your feelings and those of your child. Being in quarantine/involuntarily being at home can cause many different emotional reactions. These feelings are normal reactions to the abnormal situation
Continue to consider hygiene measures
Maintain daily structure (adjusted), reorganise if necessary
Accept help from outside (grocery shopping, medication, toys etc.)
Get in touch with the school
Making time span tangible (e.g. making calendars together, like an Advent calendar, and cross each day)
Make movement possible, also indoors (e.g. indoor trampolines, skipping ropes, gymnastics)