‘Teach children how to deal with uncertainty’

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In recent weeks, the fear of being infected with the corona virus has been a reason for parents to keep their child at home and for education and care to keep children with a runny nose out. The RIVM has now clarified about rhinitis in young children, but as long as there is no medicine or vaccine against this corona virus, we will continue to live with fear and uncertainty, Anita Kraak of the Netherlands Youth Institute signals. ‘Fear is a bad counselor if it overrides the best interests of the child. We have to teach children how to deal with uncertainty.’

The RIVM has adjusted the advice about children up to 6 years old with a cold. They may go to the shelter or school if they do not have a fever, have not been identified by the GGD as the contact person of someone infected with the corona virus, and do not have an adult family member with complaints that indicate a corona infection.

The guidelines of the RIVM are clear, says Kraak. ‘Most children with a snot nose can go to school. With this policy, RIVM wants to prevent children from sitting at home for an unnecessarily long time. After all, we now know that children hardly contribute to the spread of the corona virus. In addition, many children often have a runny nose because all the channels around the nose, throat and ears are still narrow and are more likely to become clogged with a cold. They also catch a cold more often because they are still building up their immune system.’

The questions and discussion about rhinitis in young children in the past week seemed to revolve around the fear of adults, rather than the development of children, says Kraak . “Instead of the best interests of the child, our yardstick was the fear of adults. We hardly dared to use the possibilities that the relaxation of corona measures can offer children. We just put the brakes on. That is not only undesirable. It can also be harmful to children’s development.’

Develop Resilience

In these uncertain times, we must help children deal with uncertainties, says Kraak. ‘Sitting still and waiting for certainty is the last thing we want to teach children. As a society, we have now been invited by corona to learn to make decisions based on the knowledge currently available, to reflect on its effect and to adjust our actions based on our experiences. That is precisely the development task of a child. Adults can help children with this by talking to them about uncertainties. If we are not guided by fear but by common sense, we can ensure that the generation of the future can develop resiliently.’

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