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Home I Think My Child Has Flu How do I talk to my child about swine flu?

How do I talk to my child about swine flu?

Parents constantly worry that their children will become sick with a cold or a flu. Such illnesses require time to be taken off from work to tend to the sick child and take him to the doctor, but with recent reports of a looming swine flu pandemic, parents panic as soon as their child sneezes. The swine flu should cause concern, but no alarm. As with any situation, the best thing for parents to do is to remain calm to prevent frightening their children. When the parents know the facts of swine flu, they can more effectively deliver them to their children in a soothing manner which still answers any questions.

The National Association of School Psychologists has offered a set of guidelines designed for parents to help them talk to their children (pdf link) about the swine flu. Children need to know that swine flu is the same as seasonal flu and colds in the way that it is spread. It does not come from being in contact with healthy people or from eating pork. Children can be assured that their pork chops and bacon are safe and will not cause anyone to get the flu. The discussion of swine flu should be kept age appropriate, and parents should not offer excess information if the child does not ask. Clearly addressing questions the child has in a direct manner will help to allay the fears of both child and parent.

The parents need to be available to answer any questions their children might have about the flu. The symptoms for both swine and seasonal flu are the same, and the only way to tell the difference is with a blood test from the child's doctor. The pediatrician can also prescribe the child an antiviral medicine to shorten the duration of the symptoms. These symptoms are the same as with seasonal flu: fever, cough, fatigue, stuffy or runny nose, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.

Prevention is a key in stopping children from getting flu. Hand washing and avoiding sick people are common lessons children of all ages need to be taught. By telling children the truth that the swine flu can be avoided and treated just like the seasonal flu, the child will have a feeling of control over the frightening images seen on television. The few deaths reported from swine flu have been from those who already had other serious health problems. Existing health problems are the same causes of deaths from annual seasonal flu, and healthy children who get the flu will have nothing to worry about as long as they are taken to the doctor as soon as symptoms are identified.

Children and their parents will both be comforted once they learn the real facts about swine flu. The swine flu should be considered the same as the seasonal flu with the same prevention methods and treatments. While concern for swine flu is appropriate, panic is not, but information about the swine flu will help to prevent panic in parents and their children.


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