Give importance to their thoughts, their feelings and be aware of their psychosomatic signals.

Offer a space in which they can talk freely about their fears and reassure them: explain them that it’s normal to feel anxious or scared in situations like this one. Children could ask repetitive and unceasing questions: be patient and give an answer to all of their doubts. Moreover, younger children could show their fears through physical signs (headaches, frequent stomach-aches, or struggling to sleep). On the other hand, respect their silence if they don’t feel like talking.

Children tend to worry a lot about theirs and their relatives’ safety, especially if they are far away.

One of the most common fears among children is the worry for their parents’ and loved ones’ wellbeing. During these difficult times, reassure them about everyone’s safety and allow them to keep in touch with friends and relatives they can’t meet in person at the moment.

Children often struggle to verbalise their fears: help them to express themselves and to communicate their feelings through drawings or other activities.

Even if children can’t express their mood and their worries in words, they are eventually able to express them through other channels: the most common ways are games and drawings, but also acting and plays are good ways.

Reassure them and be positive, but try not to give answers that could turn out to be too optimistic and unrealistic in the long run.

Even if children can’t fully comprehend the meaning of this emergency, it’s crucial that the information you provide is true and conveyed by an age-appropriate language.

Try to minimise their exposure to the news and social media.

If you are watching or reading the news together, make yourself available to explain to children the meaning of what they have learnt, creating a place in which kids feel free to express their doubts and opinions. Children struggle to fully understand the meaning of the information given out by the news and the confusion could increase their fear.

Explain them that there are many people who are working hard to help the ones affected by Coronavirus and face this emergency.

It’s very important that children understand that sick people are not left alone and that many experts and professionals are working hard in order to solve this emergency as soon as possible. This sense of belonging to an active and responsible community helps facing their fears and makes them feel less alone.

Children are often influenced by the mood and the reactions of the adults around them, like their parents, relatives or teachers. If you keep calm, it’s more likely that the younger ones will stay calm.

Children can sense the mood of adults around them, and they behave accordingly: it’s important that you appear even-tempered and forthcoming, so that they can approach you to regain stability and security.

Stick to your usual daily routine as much as possible or create a new one.

It is important that children experience balance, stability and continuity of their lifestyle on a daily basis, just like before this emergency. Try and engage them in educational and fun activities.

Keep in touch with your loved ones through social networks and modern technologies.

Use digital and social network channels to keep in touch with friends and family, through group video calls that also children can take part to.

Vulnerable children or kids with pre-existing difficulties, regarding for example their mental health, could experience higher levels of worry and anxiety.

If you don’t know what to do or you have any doubts about what is happening, talk to an expert to help children around you in these difficult times. Remember: you are not alone! The Telefono Azzurro helpline 1.96.96 is active 24/7 offering support and giving advice both to children and adults.

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20 April 2020

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