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Coronavirus and looking after your child’s well-being

If you’re a parent of a child or young person who’s struggling to understand what the coronavirus is, or have a child who is having difficulty managing or coping with anxiety relating to the coronavirus, you may find the following advice and webpages helpful.

You might feel particularly worried about the impact this virus may have on your children. So we’ve pulled together useful advice from a range of trusted organisations to help you look after your child's wellbeing:

  • Give clear, factual information about what’s happened, what is currently happening and how they can keep safe. Keep your language reassuring, simple and age-appropriate.
  • Try to keep to regular routines as much as possible. Give plenty of time and space for relaxing, but also burning off any excess energy, safely.

Are you feeling worried about going to appointments?

If your child has an upcoming hospital appointment, it can seem a bit scary to attend it, with everything happening at the moment and lots of advice about staying at home. But if the appointment hasn’t been cancelled it’s important to remember it’s still vital for your child to attend if your medical team believe that it’s safe to do so.

If you’re feeling scared about this, please remember the following points:

  • Your medical team will carefully consider whether it’s safe for your child to attend the appointment and take the right steps to protect you. This includes postponing or cancelling appointments if they think it necessary.
  • If your child is no longer required to attend an appointment, your medical team will be in touch with you to explain this. If you haven’t been contacted then you should still attend your appointment.
  • Measures are being put in place to make sure anyone attending an appointment is being kept safe. This will include:
    • holding appointments in separate areas of the hospital
    • restricting the number of people you’ll have contact with
    • disinfecting all medical equipment such as MRI scanners, waiting rooms and consultation rooms
    • asking people not to turn up early to appointments, to limit the amount of time spent at the hospital
    • texting you when the clinic or scan team are ready to see you, so you can wait safely in your car.

What can I do if I feel nervous about going to an appointment?

It’s absolutely natural to be feeling a bit nervous about your child attending thier appointment, but the best thing you can do is contact your medical team, key worker or clinical nurse specialist. They can help to reassure you and talk you through the measures they’re taking to keep everybody safe.

You can also ask whether there are other options for the appointment, for example holding it over the phone or virtually.

If you or your child have any symptoms related to coronavirus (Covid-19), such as a high temperature or a new continuous cough, please do not attend your hospital appointment. You also must not attend appointments if you should be self-isolating because you, or somebody close to you, has, or has had, symptoms. If you aren’t sure whether this applies to you or not, please contact your medical team.

Face masks should not be placed on young children under the age of two. Babies airways are smaller so breathing through a mask is even harder on them and by using a mask on an infant this may increase the risk of suffocation. Masks are harder enough to breathe through and a snug fit will give them less access to air, and if loose will not provide protection. If they do have a hard time breathing they are unable to take the masks of by themselves and in the attempt to remove the mask they will be touching all over their face. The best way to protect the infant is to have the rain cover on the pushchair, even though it isn’t raining, that is the biggest mask you could have, or a blanket draped over the front of the pushchair.

Be aware of how a child might react to the situation. Feelings of worry and stress can often be displayed by changes in behaviour, e.g. becoming clingy or angry. Make sure they know they can talk to you if they want to.

Please do remember if you, or a loved one, is experiencing unmanageable feelings of stress, anxiety or sadness or you feel like you want to harm yourself or others, there are a number of helplines and listening services available:

  • Samaritans - You can call 116 123 (free from any phone) or email 24 hours a day.
  • SANEline - 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day)
  • Or in an emergency, visit A&E or dial 999

There’s more information on different helplines and listening services on the Mind website.

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About the author

I’m a member of the Children and Families Team at The Brain Tumour Charity and previously practised as a Speech and Language Therapist, working with children of all ages. I’m dedicated to supporting children, young people and families affected by a brain tumour by being there every step of the way to provide help, understanding and support, when it’s needed most.

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