The media pressure on the flu fears is enormous. How to talk to the children.
Advice for parents:
- Be aware if the child is anxious or need to speak. Tell the situation in a way that the child understands.
- Conversations between adults can unnecessarily scare children, pay attention to what children perceive.
- It is important not to overfocus on media coverage of events that children may experience as scary. Older children may show interest in news. In that case, it’s good to see the news with them.
- Provide honest and simple information. Unnecessary details should be avoided.
- It is important to maintain optimism about the future. Explain that there are adults who work to solve the difficult situations.
Source: Directorate of Health
The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the National Knowledge Center on violence and traumatic stress warn parents against creating unnecessary fears in connection with the influenza virus that is now affecting the world.
The media are packed with sharp angles, big titles and dramatic images in the wake of the news about Influenza A H1N1, better known as swine flu.
In connection with the virus outbreak, the Directorate of Health has published a supervisor on its websites, on how parents should talk to children who are saved.
Many children are rescued when they hear about war, violence, natural disasters or diseases. Therefore, there is every reason to think about what you say.
Difference on age
What children perceive and what meaning the information gives them will vary with the child’s age, maturity and what it has experienced earlier. Putting news from an entire world into context requires information and knowledge most small children do not have.
Explanations are important
Children try to understand what they hear by making their own explanations of the events. Adults have a big and important task in giving clear explanations to children seeking help to understand.
You can catch this by listening to what children say to each other, as often as you get questions directly from children.
Children may wonder if there is war in Norway, whether they are safe at school, whether it is dangerous to travel on holiday, if they can be infected with diseases and so forth. This will affect the child’s experience of safety in everyday life.
Adults usually have a complex and nuanced image of what is safe in their own way, and can form a more comprehensive picture of the situation than the child can.
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There may be different signs of children who are saved. They may be contact-seeking, retreat, irritable or inattentive. Sleep problems can occur, they may have physical ailments like headache and painful stomach.
Anxious children can also change behavior and stop doing things they usually do.
These characters do not necessarily mean that a child is afraid, but can give you a hint that it may be so.
If you feel that your child is struggling to understand the situation, you should set time and be available. Say that it’s okay to ask questions and to talk about what worries them. Honest and understandable information is important.
You can investigate if the child has understood the situation by asking about his or her opinion and thoughts about what you are talking about.
Do not create unnecessary fear
It is important to pay attention to the needs of children. Not all children are as concerned with the current situation. Therefore, it is important not to push information or conversations on the children if they do not need it or ask for it.
What did your children say about the flu? Share your stories in the comment field