How to keep children safe and reassured

Guidance for parents, carers and whānau on keeping children safe and reassured.

Be honest about the situation

Help children cope with anxiety by providing accurate information.

Children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events such as COVID-19. Parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers have a particularly important part to play in reassuring children at this time.  

Children will react to and follow your verbal and non-verbal cues. If you stay informed and realistic, it will be easier for you to reassure children effectively as well. 

Children need factual, age-appropriate information about COVID-19 so that they can also feel informed and in control. They need to know how they can play a part in avoiding infection and slowing the spread of the virus. 

They also need to feel that any fears they may have can be talked about and addressed.

Reassure your children

If no one in your family has COVID-19, been in close contact with anyone with COVID-19 or are immune-compromised, emphasise to your children that they and your family are fine. 

Evidence shows children are less susceptible to COVID-19. Parents and caregivers should follow standard guidelines to prevent the virus spreading by: 

  • covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or elbow
  • washing hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and drying them thoroughly:
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the toilet
    • after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
    • after caring for sick people.

Let your children talk about their feelings and help reframe their concerns into the appropriate perspective. 

You know your children best. If they have a lot of questions, consider how much extra information would or wouldn’t be helpful for them to know before replying. 

Dr Michelle Dickinson has some great videos for kids about COVID-19 (external link)

Keeping children safe online

During the COVID-19 pandemic many people are spending more time online. While the internet helps us connect with people, there are also risks.

Now is a good time to learn about keeping your family safe online. You might consider making an online safety plan or use tools such as parental controls to manage what your children can access.

Further guidance on internet safety, including resources for parents

Make sure children are safe and cared for

If you’re worried that a child or young person you know isn't safe or being cared for, or you know a child who has been separated from their parents or caregivers, contact Oranga Tamariki.

Phone: 0508 326 459, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Email: contact@ot.govt.nz

If you're caring for a child who is immunocompromised there's more information about how you can care for them from the Ministry of Health.

Ministry of Health general health advice (external link)

Shared custody

The guidance on managing shared custody is different for each of the Alert Levels.

Guidance for shared parenting

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