Corona Fear Expert: How To Respond?
The spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus scares many people, resulting in hamster purchases and other irrational actions. Dealing with the fear of the virus is particularly difficult for children. The head of the Heidelberg Academy for Psychotherapy, Prof. Dr. Helena Dimou-Diringer how children can be taken away from the fear of the virus.
Parents should counter the emerging corona panic and unfounded fears in children. Above all, it is important to remain calm and factual in order not to transfer one's own fears to the child, emphasizes Prof. Helena Dimou-Diringer. The expert also has a few more tips to take children's fear of the virus away.
Fear of the virus is widespread
At the moment, the fear of the new corona virus seems to be significantly more contagious than the virus itself. The child and adolescent psychotherapist reports on schools where children no longer dare to go to class "because some teachers or classmates spread hysteria." After Robert Koch -Institut has now declared South Tyrol to be a risk area, there is also often the fear that classmates who have vacationed in the risk area may have become infected.
Dealing with the topic in a language-sensitive manner
First of all, it is therefore necessary to deal with the topic in a language-sensitive manner and parents themselves must remain calm and factual, since they transfer their own insecurity to the child, explains Prof. Dimou-Diringer. When describing the disease, care should be taken not to overdo it and to avoid fearful words. Terms used in the media such as "pandemic" and the reporting of pure infection numbers promote fear as long as there is no classification.
Stick to the facts
For example, if it is reported that 3,000 people worldwide suffer from the corona virus instead of comparing the number to the global population, this sounds more threatening. Naming the disease and sticking to the facts is the right way. And it should also be explained, for example, that "normal" flu viruses are much more common and that one to two out of 1,000 people die from them too, according to Prof. Helena Dimou-Diringer.
"Disasterize" the virus
"When children panic come to us in the outpatient clinic, we first do a reality check: together with the children and adolescents, we check how likely it is that they will become infected with the virus at all or even die of it if they do not advance are and were not previously in a risk area, ”summarizes the expert. Attempts are being made to "decatalize".
Correct classification of the disease is important
Further comparisons are also made for this. The statistics, for example, make it clear that only a very small percentage contract the corona virus and an even smaller number die from it. "You are more likely to die in accidents in your own household, so we should classify the disease correctly," says Prof. In addition, no one has died in this country due to the corona virus and the course is usually mild, "just like a cold."
Which hygiene measures are necessary?
Furthermore, education about the corona virus and its distribution is important. This also includes information about the different forms and options for prevention. Hygiene measures not only help here and we should make that clear to our children, the expert emphasizes. Regular hand washing and mindfulness when dealing with cold symptoms are, however, completely sufficient.
Do not stigmatize people from high-risk areas
With regard to the South Tyrol risk area, it should be made clear to the children that not all people who were there were infected. If a quarantine is initiated, this is just a precaution to better control and interrupt the infection chains. "We should not stigmatize and exclude people who come from a risk area, but speak openly about our concerns," emphasizes Prof. Because affected people often suffer more from the psychological consequences of stigmatization than from the suspected virus itself.
Adults are also unsettled
According to the expert, many adults are also worried because people infected with the virus sometimes show no symptoms and do not feel sick. This makes the disease scary and intangible. In addition, some feel helpless and insecure because there is no vaccination yet. New information on the corona virus and its evaluation are therefore important, but one should not only deal with it, says Prof. Dimou-Diringer.
According to Prof. Dimou-Diringer, distraction can also help in dealing with fear. "What topic are the children working on in the regular school subjects? What are we going to do at the weekend? In some families, the virus outbreak also means a return to closer family cohesion, ”said the expert. Overall, however, an increased sensitivity to how children can take away the fear of the virus seems to be necessary. (fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters