A new children’s book launched today will help young children understand the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Birdie and the Virus’ follows Birdie and her friend, Mr Frog, as they face the challenges of a virus spreading in their community. After Mr Frog becomes sick, the book takes children on a journey of recovery from testing for the virus to treatment, while reinforcing the importance of staying home, hand washing and keeping connected with friends during isolation.
The book is the latest addition to the Australian-first “Birdie’s Tree” series of illustrated story books created by Children’s Health Queensland to help young children process their emotions during, and after, a natural disaster or unusual event.
The Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said the book was an important tool to help support our youngest Queenslanders during this unprecedented time.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced major changes to our way of life, unlike anything Queensland families have ever experienced before,” Mr Miles.
“Children in particular may be confused or struggling with changes to their daily routine and family life.
“Whether you’re a health professional, early childhood educator, parent or carer, this book is a useful tool to help connect with young children about COVID-19.
Together, we can ensure Queensland kids get the support they need as we work towards rebuilding from this pandemic.”
Children’s Health Queensland senior psychologist and co-author of the books, Dr Andrea Baldwin said infants and young children could experience more disturbance and anxiety than older children or adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, because they have limited understanding of the events going on around them.
“Young children feel secure when their world is ordered and predictable. They need that sense of security to explore and learn, grow and develop in healthy ways. Disruption and uncertainty make it hard for families to maintain routines and help children feel that the world makes sense,” Dr Baldwin said.
“Children also pick up on their parents’ emotions. When the family is experiencing stresses like job insecurity, financial worries or family members becoming ill, young children will be affected at a crucial stage of brain development. This can have long-term as well as immediate impacts on their emotional wellbeing.”
“Every child is different. One child may cope quite easily with the pandemic, while another will need reassurance, age-appropriate answers to their questions, and lots of support. Reading a story like ‘Birdie and the Virus’ with a caring adult can help a young child work through the distressing experiences and big feelings of these difficult times.”
If you have any concerns about your child’s mental health or emotional wellbeing during COVID-19, please speak with your GP or local Child and Youth Mental Health Service.
Birdie and the Virus was developed by the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health, part of Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service.
‘Birdie and the Virus’ can be read online for free in English, Farsi, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. An animated reading of the book, including a handwashing song, can also be accessed through the website, www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/covid-19-birdie-virus/
The Birdie’s Tree website includes interactive games for children and information sheets for parents, carers and educators. See www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/natural-disaster-recovery/.