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How service providers can support young children

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​​​​​​​​​​Wellbeing and supporting children

Health and safety are always priorities but educators and staff should also take into account children's social and emotional wellbeing.

The following tips from a Telethon Kids Institute article are aimed at parents and carers but are useful for educators and staff of early childhood services.

Six tips for discussing COVID-19 with children

  1. Be honest but age-appropriate. Don't pretend it's not happening. Keep information simple for young children and more detailed for older children.
  2. Keep children calm. Find out what they know and correct any misinformation they may have heard. Remind them that while they might catch the virus, it is unlikely to make them very sick and most people will recover fully.
  3. Remain calm. Get your information from trusted sources and treat information from social media with caution. Seek advice and do not involve children in problems they cannot solve.
  4. Encourage positive action. Empower children to help stop the spread by teaching them handwashing skills and cough/sneeze etiquette, and reminding them to eat healthily, exercise daily and sleep well. Teach older children media literacy so they can find reputable sources of information.
  5. Scaffold their disappointment. Talk honestly about events they were looking forward to. Look at it as an opportunity to build resilience and teach children that life can be disappointing sometimes but we can help each other through it. Explain that good times will come again.
  6. Be on alert for highly anxious or unusual behaviour. Children may display this by, for example, having trouble sleeping, losing their appetite or over-eating, clingy behaviour, sore tummy or other physical symptoms, difficulty concentrating, irritability or social withdrawal. If you have any concerns about changes in a child's behaviour, set up a time to speak with their parents or family.

The following tips from an article for parents and carers on The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne website are also relevant for educators and staff.​

What to do to when supporting children

  • Talk about coronavirus
  • Be honest but age-appropriate
  • Stay positive and hopeful
  • Limit information children get through the media
  • Focus on things children can control
  • Stick to routines where possible
  • Show children you are calm
  • Look out for signs of anxiety or stress in children
  • Look after yourself too

Points to remember

  • Children look to adults as a guide on how to react in stressful situations.
  • Stay calm, positive and hopeful when talking with children about coronavirus.
  • Keep information clear, honest and age-appropriate.
  • Limit media exposure about coronavirus.
  • Give children practical things to do such as keeping good hand hygiene to help them feel in control.
  • Make sure children stay physically active.
  • If a child is feeling overwhelmed or stressed, speak to their parents or family and suggest they make a time to see their doctor.
  • Try to make time to answer children's questions and keep communication channels open.

How to talk to children who are worried or disappointed

It is normal for children to worry about themselves or their families and friends, and to be disappointed they can't carry on with regular activities or participate in events they were looking forward to.

Raising Children Network has suggestions on what caregivers can say to children to share their feelings and how they are coping including:

It can be scary not knowing what is going to happen with the virus. Scientists all over the world are working hard to find a vaccine and treatment. In Australia, we have good hospitals, doctors and nurses who can look after us.

It is OK to be worried about catching coronavirus. I sometimes worry too. Some people are only getting minor symptoms like what you get when you have a cold. If I need some good information, I look at the health department website.

More information:

Health and wellbeing training (including COVID-19)

Health, hygiene and wellbeing

This online course on the Early Years Health and Development portal will help build your knowledge and understanding of a range of topics including infection control, hygiene practices and social and emotional wellbeing.

COVID-19 infection control training

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed an online infection control training module that covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19.

The non-compulsory module contains information including:

  • COVID-19—what is it?
  • signs and symptoms
  • keeping safe—protecting yourself and others
  • myth busting.

Online professional training

Social media resources for services

It's important to give accurate and timely information as we work together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early Childhood Social Buzz is the department's new early childhood newsletter containing social media posts you may wish to post via your own social media channels.

Some previous editions contain posts with helpful information to share with staff and families relating to COVID-19.

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Last updated 06 December 2021