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What All Parents Should Know about Swine Flu
Date:5/1/2009

Tips for parents on talking to children about swine flu

CHICAGO, May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the concern over swine flu (H1N1) grows in school districts and communities across the country and around the world, children and families can become anxious. Parents may be looking for help on how to talk to their children and may not know how or when to communicate with the school.

That's why the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), National Association of School Nurses, and the National Association of School Psychologists joined together to provide parents with information they may need about swine flu and tips for talking to their children about the situation.

Although it's important to be cautious and vigilant, it's equally important not to panic. When talking to children, the key is to provide prevention information without causing alarm. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help prevent and reduce any anxiety.

Below are 10 tips on talking to children about swine flu:

  • Remain calm and reassuring. Your children will react to and follow your verbal and nonverbal reactions.
  • Make yourself available. Your children may need extra attention from you and may want to talk about their concerns and questions. Make time for them.
  • Know the symptoms of swine flu and how it spreads. Symptoms of swine flu include fever, sore throat, and cough, among others.
  • Review basic hygiene practices. Encourage children to practice every day good hygiene by washing their hands, by covering their mouths with a tissue when they sneeze or cough, and by not sharing food or drinks.
  • Be honest and accurate. In the absence of factual information, children often imagine situations far worse than reality. Also, parents should be frank with their children in a manner that is appropriate for their age.
  • Discuss new rules or practices at school. Many schools will be enforcing prevention habits.
  • Avoid excessive blaming. It is important to avoid stereotyping any one group of people as responsible for the virus.
  • Monitor television viewing. Limit television viewing or access to information on the Internet. Constantly watching updates on the status of the flu virus can increase anxiety.
  • Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promotes physical health.
  • Communicate with your school. Let your school know if your child is sick, and keep them home. Talk to your school nurse, school psychologist, school counselor, or school social worker if your child is having difficulties as a result of anxiety or stress related to the flu. Follow all instructions from your school.

The complete handout, "Talking to Children About H1N1 (Swine) Flu: A Parent Resource," an audio version of the guidelines and additional resources are available on all of the following Websites: www.pta.org; www.nasn.org; or www.nasponline.org.

About National PTA

PTA comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education health, and welfare of children and youth.

About National Association of School Nurses

The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) is a non-profit specialty nursing organization, organized in 1968 and incorporated in 1977, representing school nurses exclusively. NASN has over 14,000 members and 51 affiliates, including the District of Columbia and overseas. The mission of the NASN is "to improve the health and educational success of children and youth by developing and providing leadership to advance the school nursing practice." To learn more about NASN, please visit www.NASN.org.

About National Association of School Psychologists

NASP is the largest organization of school psychologists in the world, representing 26,000 members in the United States and abroad. NASP represents school psychology and supports school psychologists to enhance the learning and mental health of all children and youth. School psychologists work with parents and educators to promote children's success in school and life through academic, behavioral, and social-emotional supports.


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