Does fear of Covid-19 affect development in children and adolescents?
It is normal to feel negative emotions such as fear and anxiety in the epidemic that affects the whole world and has deadly effects. However, what should be done and how to talk to them in order to prevent children and adolescents from affecting their development while living with this emotion that they have never known and did not know before.
How should parents approach their young and adolescent children with epidemic precautions?
Like any emotion or behavior, these feelings are considered normal unless they are excessive and persistent. A certain level of anxiety and fear enables us to take precautions against potentially dangerous situations and to protect both ourselves and our environment.
While the emotion-state can be kept under control by adults, children may not be able to keep this situation in balance. In this process, it is necessary to convey it to early children and adolescents with a correct attitude and affect. In this period, children should be told in a way that it is normal for them to worry or fear, that anxiety and fear arise by our brain to protect us and cause us to take precautions.
When giving information on the subject, it should be expressed with correct information in a reassuring, honest and age-appropriate manner. Information such as what can be done to prevent transmission of this disease and how to protect it should be informed without causing anxiety and fear. More caution should be exercised when discussing such rumors and unconfirmed information in front of children and adolescents.
How should limited hours and elders advise the behaviors of children and adolescents during the visit?
It is very important not to leave any question unanswered and to provide correct information while giving information about the limited watch application and the restriction of our visits to the elders. It should be stated that he can talk to his parents whenever he wants, whenever he is confused. We have to be supportive. It is necessary to explain that these restrictions are applied to protect them and our environment without causing concern.
What kind of expressions should be used about whether they feel responsible / not to feel responsible for the risk of contamination?
Routines are of great importance for children. The old order should be continued as much as possible. Children are affected by their parents’ emotions and behavior. For this reason, in places where children are present, they should not behave in fear, anxiety and panic, and should be treated calmly. Terms appropriate for their age and development should be used. Details that are not very important about the subject should be avoided. It should be expressed to children and adolescents that they are safe at home, that the measures taken are protective, and that there are things that can be done to solve this situation for the society and us.
How should be treated so that elders of the family do not feel guilty in their illness and death due to Covid-19?
It should be stated without fear that there is not only one factor to be affected by the Corona virus epidemic, but also the risks of transmission with other conditions. It should be stated that many people help people with this infection, and healthcare professionals, hospitals, governments and society do their best. The period of watching the news should be kept short so that they are not exposed to these situations any further. It should be kept away from images containing scary images. Confronting negative news without your control should be prevented.
How should the choice of words and sentences used in taking precautions be?
Especially with young children, we may need to talk about the same conversations over and over. They may ask the same questions often to adopt or trust some information. One of the most common causes of anxiety is uncertainty. First of all, it is necessary to learn what children know and think about this subject and then transfer the correct information. The 3-6 age group may have difficulties in comprehending and making sense of abstract concepts and living things such as viruses and microbes that they cannot see. Information on these issues should be given in a language they can understand. It should be explained that there are beneficial microorganisms as well as harmful microorganisms. After the information, we need to show the correct hygiene rules both verbally and behaviorally.
When describing precautions such as hand washing and hygiene, it should be explained without exaggeration. Children and adolescents should not force themselves to speak unless they want to and feel ready. If children in the younger age group do not have information about the situation, we may cause them to worry unnecessarily, especially by opening the subject and informing them. Children whose abstract concepts are not yet developed can be given information while playing a game or during an activity to provide information about the disease.
For children who want to talk about the Corona virus constantly, it may be necessary to distract and distract from the subject after talking about this issue sufficiently. In adolescents, on the other hand, more fearless, beliefs that nothing will happen to them can be observed. There may be beliefs that you will not underestimate the situation, do not care, will not get sick. In these cases, it is necessary to speak carefully about the process without discussion. Appropriate scientific data can be shared and it can be supported to read clean information on this subject.
How should we talk and what should be paid attention to so that they do not experience anxiety, anxiety, sadness and guilt in their future years due to all these experiences?
First of all, an environment in which the child and adolescent can express their feelings and thoughts should be created in the family. Instead of forcing them to speak, we can try to find other alternative ways for them to speak. For younger children, you may prefer this method as it will be easier for them to express this with games or pictures.
You can make him set up games where he can express his feelings, fears and worries. As the feelings and thoughts come to light, the burden of these feelings will gradually decrease. Supportively remind them of the problems they have dealt with before. Express that he will pass and overcome the situation we are in. After the epidemic, you can make speeches that will help them get what they want to do, their thoughts and dreams. We may ask him to imagine a place where they feel safe when they are concerned.
Most importantly, we should not underestimate their fears and anxieties. We can say that we understand them, but that we are with them and we will do what is necessary to protect them from them, and that he can help us in this process.