How to talk to children about COVID-19, by TV's Dr Ranj 

Dr Ranj children COVID
Dr Ranj Singh takes questions from children on this week's World Vs Virus.
Image: Ranj Singh
  • Ranj Singh presents 'Get Well Soon' a TV show for very young children.
  • On this week's World Vs Virus podcast, he talks to children about COVID-19.
  • Singh says parents should be honest and accurate, tailoring what they tell their children to fit their age and understanding.
  • Also, hear vocal artist Reeps One perform for #SongsOfComfort
  • Subscribe to World Vs Virus on Apple, Spotify and other podcast platforms.

When can I go back to school? Will I be allowed to go swimming in the summer? Why is mummy washing our food shopping?

What questions could your child ask a doctor about COVID-19? Those were among the questions that three children put to Ranj Singh, presenter of the BBC TV show Get Well Soon, in this week's World Vs Virus podcast.

Dr Ranj is well known to children in the UK as the friendly face from TV who can give information and reassurance to even the youngest children.

As well as answering the children's questions, he also had some advice on how parents should talk their young ones about coronavirus without scaring or misleading them.

"It very much depends on the age of your child," he said. "You've got to tailor your information and your approach to how old your little one is and what their understanding is."

Inform yourself

Before telling children about COVID-19, make sure you understand enough about it yourself.

"Get as much information for yourself from accurate and appropriate and reliable resources. Be careful where you go online."

Gauge how much your child knows already

"You might be quite surprised. They may not be worried at all, or they may be worried about something completely different to what you were expecting - wondering why they can't see their friends rather than what the virus is itself.

"Younger children will be a bit more concerned about how the world around them has changed, why their routine has changed, why they're unable to see certain members of family."

Make it fun

"They might find if you turn explaining coronavirus into a bit of a game or a playful activity or an artistic activity, for example, drawing the virus and understanding it from that perspective, they might find that really useful."

Keep it real

"Whatever approach you take, it's best to be honest and as accurate as you can be. Try not to let your emotions come out too readily because children, if you're anxious, they will feed off your anxiety. They will reflect that back, and that doesn't really help the situation.

And if you don't know the answer, it's okay, just say: "I don't know, but let's go and find out."

Dr Ranj's COVID podcast for grownups: Steths, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Reason to be cheerful

Hear vocal artist Reeps 1's performance for Yo-Yo Ma's #SongsOfComfort.

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