Unfortunately, Swine Flu is here to stay. There isn't anywhere you can turn and not see something in regards to it. Children also see and hear these news stories and watch the adults in their lives for reassurance. Young children may be particularly anxious at this point. Their anxiety over the flu can be relieved through open and honest communication from the adults in their lives.
Discuss where H1N1 comes from, how it is spread and what the symptoms are openly and honestly with the child. Assure them that even though it is a very serious health issue, they can take measures to lessen their chances of becoming infected with the virus. It is important that you speak to the child in a calm voice in words they can understand.
Explain to the child that anyone who is sick with the Swine Flu will develop a high fever suddenly with all over body aches and chills. They may also have regular flu symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing or coughing. These are also symptoms of allergies so explain to the child there are other symptoms like feeling extremely tired and not eating. Explain to them that someone who has this flu might also suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.
Explain and demonstrate personal safety measures they can take to avoid H1N1. Knowing they can help protect themselves will make them feel more confident. Explain and demonstrate proper hand washing techniques, explain why they should not touch their eyes, nose, mouth or face after touching any surfaces and to keep at least a few feet away from other people. Remind them that getting the right amount of sleep and eating properly also helps to keep them healthy to help avoid many illnesses, including this one.
Reassure the child that you are watching or reading the news so you will know if the Swine Flu has reached your area. Limit the child's exposure to news reports so they don't become fearful from the media frenzy. Practice what you preach, use proper measures to mitigate chances of contracting the Swine Flu yourself.
Parents often unintentionally forget that their children see and hear more than they need to. Even a brief comment on the news can scare a young child. It happens and rather than feeling guilty over it, address the situation clearly and calmly.