AS the UK lockdown continues I think it’s important for your readers to learn how they can be talking to kids about COVID-19.

It’s imperative to keep a balance of helping children understand the facts, as well as providing emotional support, and keeping ourselves afloat too.

Here at Childline we’re experiencing an increasing number of contacts from children concerned about coronavirus. The biggest spike in calls took place as parents started working from home and school closures were announced. Children may have already picked up on snippets of information through conversations and news headlines and, even though they haven’t discussed it with you, may be wondering what it means for them and people they care about. Therefore, it’s important not to shy away from talking about the coronavirus with your children.

Begin the conversation by asking them what they already know about it. Reassure them that you are going to listen to them, remove any distractions, and mute any sounds so that you can give your full attention.Try not to interrupt when they talk to you about it, just let them say what they need to say. If they address fears, be sure not to dismiss them. Children will be taking in a lot of information now, and anxious minds can create a host of worries.

When they’ve finished, calmly explain the facts of the situation. You can find these through NHS and World Health Organisation sites.

Our counsellors are trained to support children through their worries or concerns, and children can speak to us for free using the Childline website, or by calling 0800 1111.

Helen Westerman

Head of Safeguarding in Communities