Advice for Parents on Talking to Children About Novel H1N1 Flu (Formerly Swine Flu) Concerns
As a parent you know how hard it can be for children to understand stressful
situations, such as the current situation of novel H1N1 flu. Stressful
situations often cause children to worry and have many questions as to why it
is happening and how it can be fixed. It is important to remember to take care
of your health and well-being as well as the health of your children. If you
cope with a stressful situation well, your children will also cope better. Your
confidence and calm attitude will help your children ease their worries and
feel safe and secure.
Here are some helpful tips on what you can do for your children:
- Keep activities as consistent and normal as possible even if your normal
routine changes (due to daycare or school closures).
- Ask your children what they have heard about novel H1N1 flu. Answer
questions openly and honestly, at a level they can understand. Be concrete and
do not avoid difficult questions. (See Talking With
Children About Flu for more information on talking tips).
- Allow your children to express their feelings and concerns. Let them know
it is okay to be afraid or mad. Ask questions so you can help them identify and
cope with their feelings.
- Children always need to feel safe and loved. When they are uncertain about
situations and afraid they may need even more affection and attention.
- Limit exposure to media and adult conversations about novel H1N1 flu . If
your children are watching T.V. try to watch with them or make sure you are
available to answer questions about what they have heard.
- As appropriate, encourage healthy behaviors: eating well, sleeping well,
- Use their questions as an opportunity to let them know what they can do to
avoid getting novel H1N1 flu.
Focus on what your child can do to avoid getting novel H1N1
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (long enough for
children to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice). Be sure to set a good
example by doing this yourself.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue. (If a tissue is used, throw the tissue away
- Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.
- Stay at least six feet away from people who are sick.
- Stay home from school if sick, and stay away from sick people until they
For additional information see: