CONTRA
CONTRA
News - 14th May 2020

Talking to children

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In a series of four blogs, Educational Psychologist Dr Dan O’Hare talks to us about promoting children’s wellbeing during the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

Dan is currently joint chair-elect of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology and runs edpsy.org.uk, a space for Educational Psychologists to share information across boundaries to develop and improve the lives of children and young people.

 

In the second of his blogs, he shares advice on helping children to understand what’s going on.

 

It’s a time of uncertainty right now. Schools are closed, and there’s not much clarity around when they’ll reopen again. Some children and families will be experiencing higher levels of stress, while other children may be feeling happier and more relaxed than they have for a while.

 

Children are naturally going to want to understand what is going on, what the latest updates are, and what the future looks like. A few weeks ago the Division of Educational and Child Psychology released some advice for talking to children about coronavirus, and I’m going to cover them for you here.

 

  • It’s good to talk – having the chance to talk about the current situation with you, frequently helps children see that they can ask questions, and means that they have accurate information.
  • Be truthful but remember your child’s age – give children factual information. The same message can be delivered to a 6 year old or a 16 year old, but the level of detail and the way the message is given might be different. Younger children might like stories and cartoons – there’s a big list of books and stories here.
  • Allow children to ask questions – children might ask questions because they’re interested or worried. It’s ok to say “I don’t know” – you might reflect back to them how that makes you feel.
  • Try to manage your own worries – it can be tricky to have some conversations with children if we’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Try to notice your own feelings and think about what could make you feel calmer before talking to children about the current situation
  • Give practical guidance – remind children that there are really helpful things they can do to help, like washing their hands, staying inside and talking to all their friends and families using the internet or phone.

 

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Dr Dan O’Hare. Educational psychologist and lecturer at the University of Bristol, joint chair-elect of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology (part of the British Psychological Society).

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