Children's worlds have changed significantly due to COVID-19.
How they learn, engage in social and sporting activity, and relate with family may all look different.
Children's responses will naturally vary with some showing little concern and others experiencing significant fear and anxiety.
Reactions will be influenced by personality type, past experience, the amount of change experienced and the level of support provided.
It is important for parents and caregivers to look out for behavioural changes in children.
Children may express their feelings verbally or through physical and behavioural changes such as; tantrums, disrupted sleep, aggression, nightmares, becoming withdrawn, nausea and headaches.
The most important thing is to talk to your children.
Sometimes parents fear that talking about these things can make it worse.
We need to remember that children are aware of COVID-19 and are already living with its implications.
It is essential that parents make time to understand what their children know, how they feel and to answer any questions they may have.
Information should be provided in a clear, calm and factual way that is appropriate to their age level.
Children will be hearing about COVID-19 through a range of sources and may have some incorrect information.
Talking to them about what they know provides a great opportunity to correct any false information and ensure they have a balanced understanding.
Keep checking in with children and maintain open communication.
It is important to reassure children.
Give your child a sense of control by educating them about the things they can do to keep safe; how to wash their hands, maintain physical distance and avoid contact with people who are sick.
Ensure there are positive conversations, future planning and limit media exposure to ensure a balanced perspective.
Preserve healthy lifestyles for children by ensuring that healthy eating, exercise, sleep and play are maintained.
Children need structure and routine to feel safe and thrive.
Try to create new routines that provide comfort and predictability.
Children may not worry about themselves becoming sick but may worry for other people such as parents or grandparents.
Ensure children remain connected to important people in their lives even if it's through remote platforms.
This is important as it provides reassurance for children that their loved ones are still in their life, are accessible and safe.
Children quickly pick up on stress and worry in adults, so for parents, taking care of yourselves during this time is equally important.
24 hour support is available or contact your GP.
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800
Rebecca Cornish is chief executive of Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee.
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