How to Explain the COVID-19 Situation to Family Members

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On a large scale, many countries, including the Philippines, have implemented ways to avoid the spread of the virus. The enhanced community quarantine in Luzon alone has resulted in the suspension of commercial travel in and out of the island, as well as the restriction of physical interaction. It goes without saying that implementing measures to keep the communities safe trickle down to the level of individual households. Cooperation from each and every resident, young and old, is necessary. 

However, with the daily progression of events and the amount of information disseminated to the public, the whole situation and preparation surrounding COVID-19 might be confusing to some. It is, therefore, important to properly brief each and every person in your family, including your staff at home, and keep them well-informed. Doing so will not only encourage them to do their part in protecting the community during this trying time; it could also relieve uncertainty, stress, and anxiety for many. 

Here’s how you can explain the circumstances brought about by COVID-19 and the preparations that need everyone’s cooperation: 

Find out what they already know

Before anything else, it’s best to find out what information they have gathered about COVID-19. Be specific when inquiring, and ask simple questions like, “Where did you hear about coronavirus?” “Do you know why we are being asked to stay home?” “Are you aware of how people get infected?” “Do you know who is most at-risk?”

This will allow you to gauge their understanding of the situation and give you a clue as to where and how to begin explaining the gravity of the circumstance. It will also give you the chance to learn what kind of details they are concerned with, and correct any misinformation they may have picked up from unreliable sources.

Provide facts that concern them

Explain the situation in accordance to what they worry about. For instance, you can tell your children how it might affect their school calendar and their summer vacation. Inform seniors of the known cases in the country and explain why their age group should be most careful. Explain to helpers why social distancing is practiced in supermarkets and why it should be applied in wet markets as well. 

Refrain from sharing details that could be beyond what they care to know as it might confuse them more. Also, base your explanations on facts reported by credible news channels and platforms. These are dedicated to reporting details that are up-to-date and relevant. They also follow storylines so it is easier to keep up with the developments of a particular theme as you continue the discussions. If possible, direct your kids to news channels and platforms that are age-appropriate.

Lastly, it’s also important to be honest when you do not know the answer to an inquiry during your conversation. You can use the opportunity to learn about it together. 

Help manage stress and anxiety 

The increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, where the count of deaths is still higher than the recoveries as of writing, could be very stressful for many. The spread of an infectious disease alone is scary and can be anxiety-inducing. Keep this in mind when you begin to explain the COVID-19 situation and preparations for your household

Just as it is important to familiarize them with the circumstance and share accurate information, you should also help them cope with the stress and anxiety they might feel during this time. 

The elderly and others who are most at-risk, such as people with chronic diseases, respiratory problems, and women who are pregnant, might feel most stressed and anxious. Even frontliners and children may be affected because of uncertainty.

Provide better support by using a comforting tone when you explain the situation. Constantly hearing about the virus can be unsettling, so make sure you reassure them instead of creating more fear. Allow them to acknowledge and express their fears so they can feel validated and safe. Check on changes in their behavior too. Address these and encourage self-care routines.

The spread of COVID-19 and the preparations done from the national to the regional and individual level is out of the ordinary. It is far from what most people are used to, but that’s exactly why it’s most important for each one to understand it and do their part.

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