On April 5, 2020, the Jeugdjournaal had a (Dutch) special broadcast on corona, with a clear explanation of
the virus and nice tips about what you can do now that life looks completely different. The broadcast
started with a poll to find out what children themselves think. Most children prefer to go back to school
because they miss their teachers and because they miss their lessons, but also because of the sociability
in the classroom.
A lot of children are worried too, according to the Jeugdjournaal poll. They are afraid that they
themselves will get sick, or their parents, who may then no longer be able to take care of them. Virologist
Annemiek van der Eijk reassured the young viewers: most parents are not that old, and while they can get
sick, they also mostly recover. Additionally, it is very rare for children to become seriously ill from corona.
Esther van den Bergh, psychologist at the Máxima, recognizes such concerns in children, but she also
sees them in parents. 'It's not weird either: fear and stress are normal reactions to an abnormal event
such as corona, and everyone in society has to deal with it. Parents of a child with cancer already know
what it's like when your familiar world suddenly looks very different. The shared experience might make
parents of the Máxima feel better understood'.
The experience of coping with uncertainties and anxieties - and talking about them - is very useful for
parents, for example, in conversations about corona with their child and their child’s siblings. After all,
parents often already know how to talk about illness. Van den Bergh: 'Just as with cancer, it's not wise to
pretend that nothing is wrong with corona either. Children - including the little ones - are well aware
when adults are worried. It's better to be open about it, show that you understand why children may be
scared and actually explain what it's like. For example, with the booklet (Dutch) "Praten over corona”.
Ask for help
There's more to deal with than just the virus now. There are also parents who suddenly have no income
anymore, for example, or who have another child in a handicapped institution with whom they cannot
visit. Van den Bergh: 'Those are tough stories. Most people are resilient and solve problems themselves
by talking to family and friends. But that's exactly what's most difficult to do right now. Nobody needs to
be ashamed if they need extra support in these difficult times. Whether it's from the medical pedagogical
staff member, the medical social worker, the psychologist or the life questions counsellor. We are here for
all the children and parents of Máxima, right now.
Do you have questions about dealing with the fear of corona of your child(ren)? Do you think that your
child or yourself could benefit from extra support? If so, speak to your child's medical pedagogical staff
member, or ask the attending physician. He or she can put you in touch with someone from the
psychosocial team or, for example, the life questions counsellor.