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How to talk to kids about COVID-19 with resources for parents and children

How to talk to kids about COVID-19 with resources for parents and children

How can parents and carers manage the questions, fears and concerns from children about COVID-19?

We’ve put together some ideas, videos and a free downloadable resource for kids under 7 to help.

With the world in the grip of the COVID-19 response, parents and carers are wondering how best to manage the questions, fears and concerns from children. Even for adults it seems like a different world, we’re all dealing with fears about contagion, social norms are shifting, our regular actives are interrupted, institutions are closing, there is anxiety about food and resource security and uncertain work situations. As a result, children have varying levels of awareness and understanding of what’s going on.

To help you navigate this time, we’ve put together a useful guide on how to talk to your children about COVID-19 with a few useful resources.

How to Talk to Kids About the Coronavirus (a primer for parents)

Direct link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WhVad8ToCiU&feature=emb_logo

Coronavirus Explained! (for kids)

Matter-of-fact, easily understood, child-friendly video from Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) explaining COVID-19 using a plush toy, experiments and highlighting the benefits of handwashing.

Direct link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/OPsY-jLqaXM

Here are some other things you can do when talking to kids

Be factual in a child-friendly way and control uncertainty

Young children have the right to know what’s going on. Explain the facts in a child-friendly way (you can use the video above), telling them the evidence so far shows children are less likely to experience severe symptoms than older adults. Ask open questions and listen to how your child feels about the situation, don’t minimise the situation but help them process their feelings and reassure them there is a plan to keep them safe.

Here is a great activity resource for younger children #COVIBOOK– A printable book with activities for kids under 7.

Mindheart.co has created a free short printable book for kids under 7 to support and reassure children and ease kids’ anxiety regarding COVID-19. It’s a starter for families to discuss the full range of emotions arising from the current situation. The resources don’t seek to be a source of scientific information, but rather a tool based on fantasy, and you can print this material so children can draw on it. Remember that emotions are processed through repetitive play and stories read multiple times. Share COVIBOOK and help ease children’s anxiety all over the world.

Download the book here>> 

Direct link: https://660919d3-b85b-43c3-a3ad-3de6a9d37099.filesusr.com/ugd/64c685_319c5acf38d34604b537ac9fae37fc80.pdf

 

Be mindful of a child’s media consumption

The pandemic response has overtaken the media and many of us have been glued to the 24/7 news cycle for updates. Coverage often features strong images of full-covering hazmat suits, people with masks and sick people in hospital – this can be terrifying for children.

Let’s also remember that many Australians were impacted by the horrific bushfires and the media was full of stories and images of people and animals suffering. Although these visuals have disappeared from the media cycle (but the impact is ongoing for those effected), as a community we’ve all been exposed to images and stories that trigger a fear response. These feelings can linger long after the immediate threat has been removed and children being particularly sensitive. The COVID-19 situation may validate the feeling that the ‘world isn’t a safe place’ anymore.

Turn off the TV when children are around or limit the amount of media they are exposed to.

If they do see these images, debrief them on what they’ve seen, explaining everyone is working together to stop this spreading, explain the facts and reassure them you are taking all precautions to keep them and other members of the family safe and they can help by practising good hygiene.

 

Take care of yourself

Ever wonder why the safety messages on a plane instruct that if oxygen masks are required that adults fit their own oxygen mask first before helping others, including their children? It’s because if the adult is attending to others without their mask fitted, they could lose consciousness and they aren’t capable of helping their children or others.

These are uncertain and stressful times impacting everything from usual daily activities, social engagements, work and work stability, finances and family dynamics, social movement, workplaces and family – as parents and carers, we can only help those we care about if we take care of personal own wellbeing.

The Guardian has published a useful article on how to manage anxiety and the COVID-19 response. It is written for those who are struggling, but there are useful suggestions in the article we can all implement:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/16/coronavirus-health-anxiety

 

More from our blog

Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response.

Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response.

How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?

 

So here we are at the beginning of a seismic disruption to workplaces all around the world with the COVID-19 response. Organisations are shifting the way they’re doing businesses, some are closing temporarily, others are mandating their people to work from home, and some are doing both.

This is a challenge for leaders. How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?

The US military coined the acronym ‘VUCA’ to describe times of rapid and unpredictable change that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. VUCA can be used to explore the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 landscape and can double as a simple catch all summary for “Everything is going completely NUTS out there!”

It can also serve as a very useful frame for how leaders should and should not respond at this time as leaders can often display the VUCA characteristics in their own leadership style. This is even more detrimental in the current landscape.

Mertz (2014) gives leaders some tips on leading through VUCA times through the acronym DURT – being Direct, Understandable, Reliable and Trustworthy.

How you can apply this in a COVID-19 response environment :

Be Direct – Give your people the facts. What does the current situation mean for your business and the work your people are doing? How can you do this with kindness and compassion?

Be Understandable – Create a clear context and give clear messaging. Break down messages for your workforce in terms of what your plans mean for them in their role. If you have people in your organisation with English as a second language, or with literacy challenges, make sure your communications are delivered in formats and language that can be understood by them. Consider all communication formats, don’t just rely on email. Try WhatsApp groups, or communicate through video messages for more personalised communication.

Be Reliable – Ensure people can count on you. Workforces are looking at their leaders for direction and reassurance. Do what you said you’d do, or be straight about why the situation has had to change.

Be Trustworthy – No leader, politician or health care professional has a crystal ball to see the future and what the impact of COVID-19 will be. As much as we all crave certainty, acknowledge that situations are changing daily and be straight and compassionate.

Also, leaders need to look out for their wellbeing and that of their people. This can be challenging when we are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 response, not just at work, but at home and in the wider community. So, don’t forget to be kind to yourself, and others.

REFERENCES:

VUCA Times Call for DURT Leaders

https://www.thindifference.com/2014/05/vuca-times-call-durt-leaders/

Additional information for employers

Here’s some additional information from Safe Work Australia on when employers can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under workplace health and safety laws.

Safe Work Australia has information about when an employer can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under the model workplace health and safety laws.

More information:

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Why sleep is your superpower

Why sleep is your superpower

Are you and your workers skimping on sleep?

It’s been proven that sleep deprivation not only means poorer performance, productivity and safety outcomes, but has an impact on our physical health.

Researchers found workers losing just 16 minutes of sleep (from the 7-9 hours a night recommended) showed a difference between a clear-headed day at work or one filled with distractions.

At the point of sleep deprivation (less than 6.5 hours a night) the likelihood of a workplace accident increases by 70%.

In this deep dive TED Talk into the science of slumber, Matt Walker shares the good things that happen when you get good sleep — and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don’t (with some surprising insights for men) on both your brain and body.

This includes sleep’s impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code — as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye.

 


Sources

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133605.htm
https://www.americansafetycouncil.com/content/osha-10-safety/


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Working well: An organisational approach to preventing psychological injury

Working well: An organisational approach to preventing psychological injury

Download Now:

Comcare Publication
Working Well:
An Organisational Approach To Preventing Psychological Injury

A GUIDE FOR CORPORATE, HR AND OHS MANAGERS

Source: Comcare.

Many employees will at times feel that they are not coping well at work for a variety of reasons.
Some of these employees will experience some degree of stress as a result. While many people have strategies to deal with these situations, work-related stress becomes a concern where it is intense or sustained for such a time that it causes ill-health, psychological injury and workers’ compensation claims. Where significant numbers of employees experience the effects of stress at work, the problem can assume organisational proportions. Stress that has such harmful effects is now being recognised as a major workplace issue with significant costs for organisations, individuals and their families.

The factors that contribute to a psychological injury are many, and different prevention strategies may be required, depending on the factors prevailing in the particular organisation, workplace or work team. This publication from Comcare provides information to assist Australian government organisations to design and implement strategies to manage work-related stress and prevent psychological injury.  It provides information on the major causes of stress and psychological injury. It also covers evidence-based interventions for minimising the adverse impact of these factors, as indicated by international and Australian research and analysis of Comcare claims data.

Comcare recommends that agencies adopt a systematic and structured approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) risk management.

A four step process to risk management is recommended, involving:

1.Identifying the sources of potential harm to employee health and wellbeing.

2. Systematically assessing the risk of employees being harmed.

3.Developing and implementing a plan to:
a) address the workplace factors that are risks of psychological injury (primary intervention);
b) minimise the impact of stress on employees (secondary intervention);
c) provide safe and effective rehabilitation and return to work for individuals once an injury has occurred (tertiary intervention); and

4. Monitoring and reviewing the implementation and effectiveness of interventions against agreed performance indicators and targets to ensure continuous improvement.

Source:  Comcare https://www.comcare.gov.au/

Download Now:

Comcare Publication
Working Well:
An Organisational Approach To Preventing Psychological Injury

A GUIDE FOR CORPORATE, HR AND OHS MANAGERS

Lack of control over high-stress jobs can lead to early grave

Academic research has found that having greater control over your job can help you manage work-related stress. But it’s never suggested that it was a matter of life and death — until now.

New research from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in the US finds that those in high-stress jobs with little control over their workflow die younger or are less healthy than those who have more flexibility and discretion in their jobs and are able to set their own goals as part of their employment.

Using a longitudinal sample of 2,363 Wisconsin residents in their 60s over a seven-year period, they found that for individuals in low-control jobs, high job demands are associated with a 15.4 percent increase in the likelihood of death, compared to low job demands. For those in high-control jobs, high job demands are associated with a 34 percent decrease in the likelihood of death compared to low job demands.

“We explored job demands, or the amount of work, time pressure and concentration demands of a job, and job control, or the amount of discretion one has over making decisions at work, as joint predictors of death,” said Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, assistant professor of organisational behavior and human resources at the Kelley School and the paper’s lead author.

“These findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making.”

The paper, “Worked to Death: The Relationships of Job Demands and Job Control With Mortality,” has been accepted for publication in the journal Personnel Psychology.

Studies exploring the work factors associated with death are largely absent from the organisational psychology and management literatures. The authors believe theirs is the first study in the management and applied psychology fields to examine the relationship between job characteristics and mortality.

Gonzalez-Mulé said the paper’s results do not suggest that employers necessarily need to cut back on what is expected from employees. Rather, they demonstrate the value in restructuring some jobs to provide employees with more say about how the work gets done.

“You can avoid the negative health consequences if you allow them to set their own goals, set their own schedules, prioritize their decision-making and the like,” he said, also recommending that firms allow “employees to have a voice in the goal-setting process, so when you’re telling someone what they’re going to do … it’s more of a two-way conversation.”

Thus, micro-managing employees can have a public health impact. Among people in the study’s sample, the researchers also found that the same set of causal relationships applied to their body mass index. People in high-demand jobs with low control were heavier than those in high-demand jobs with high control.

“When you don’t have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff,” Gonzalez-Mulé said. “You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope with it.”

Cancer research studies have found a correlation between eating poorly and developing the disease; at 55 percent, cancer was the leading cause of death of those in the paper’s sample. Other leading causes of death were circulatory system ailments, 22 percent; and respiratory system ailments, 8 percent.

The paper provides more reasons for those in stressful, dead-end jobs to refresh their resumes and look for other employment. Twenty-six percent of deaths occurred in people in frontline service jobs, and 32 percent of deaths occurred in people with manufacturing jobs who also reported high job demands and low control.

“What we found is that those people that are in entry-level service jobs and construction jobs have pretty high death rates, more so than people in professional jobs and office positions,” he said. “Interestingly, we found a really low rate of death among agricultural workers.”

Gonzalez-Mulé said the new study highlights the benefits of job crafting, a relatively new process that enables employees to mold and redesign their job to make it more meaningful. Other research suggests that workers who engage in job crafting are happier and are more productive than co-workers who don’t.

“In some settings, it will be difficult to do this. For a construction worker, it’s going to really hard to allow them autonomy; there’s usually just one right way to do things. In jobs like that, it’s more about just warning the employee of the risks that are here,” he said. “But with some blue-collar jobs, you can. Some people have experimented with this in factory settings, using things like flex-time and paying people based on piece-rate … showing employees what the outcome is of their work.

“There’s a lot research that shows that people who have a social connection with the beneficiaries of their work are much more satisfied and have less stress in their jobs, with no change in the job itself.”

Their study also found that people with a higher degree of control over their work tend to find stress to be useful.

“Stressful jobs cause you to find ways to problem-solve and work through ways to get the work done. Having higher control gives you the resources you need to do that,” Gonzalez-Mulé said. “A stressful job then, instead of being something debilitating, can be something that’s energizing. You’re able to set your own goals, you’re able to prioritize work. You can go about deciding how you’re going to get it done. That stress then becomes something you enjoy.”

Data in the study was obtained from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which followed more than 10,000 people who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957. They were interviewed at various time intervals over their lives, through 2011, to provide data on educational, occupational and emotional experiences. All participants in the study were employed but near the end of their careers.

Gonzalez-Mulé and Cockburn only included those who were not retired in 2004 and who responded to questions about job demands and job control, and then followed up on their responses to questions in 2011. They employed rigorous controls for factors such as demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status and affect.

Gonzalez-Mulé wonders if younger workers are better able to cope with demanding jobs, regardless of the level of control, than workers at the end of their careers. Future research could follow people at an earlier point in their careers to see if the Job Demands-Control Model accurately predicts strain over time.


Story Source: Science Daily


Journal Reference:

  1. Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, Bethany Cockburn. Worked To Death: The Relationships of Job Demands and Job Control With Mortality. Personnel Psychology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/peps.12206

FactCheck: do better pay rates for truck drivers improve safety?

FactCheck: do better pay rates for truck drivers improve safety?

Michael Quinlan, UNSW Australia

The evidence is that if you ensure that people travel safely in terms of safe rates you will get proper outcomes … you will get improved safety. – Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, speaking on RN Breakfast, April 11, 2016.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised to abolish the Road Transport Remuneration Tribunal if re-elected.

That announcement came after the tribunal issued a Road Safety Remuneration Order setting minimum pay rates for self-employed truck drivers consistent with the 2010 Road Transport and Distribution Award.

Turnbull told reporters that the tribunal is not effective in improving safety and that it undermines owner operator drivers and family businesses.

This FactCheck will not examine whether the Road Transport Remuneration Tribunal is the best way to improve road safety. It confines itself only to testing against the evidence a recent assertion by Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, that better driver pay results in improved safety.

Is that assertion correct?

Checking the source

When asked for evidence to support his statement, Albanese’s spokesman referred The Conversation to Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Brendan O’Connor.

O’Connor’s spokeswoman referred The Conversation to the 2016 Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Commonwealth government, which recommended the tribunal be abolished.

On the question of pay and road transport safety, the Pricewaterhouse Coopers report said:

  • directly comparing remuneration and safety does demonstrate statistically significant correlations. However, results vary substantially.
  • the four most recent papers range in conclusion from a) a very large effect, b) a U-shaped curve, in which a large positive effect of initial remuneration rises eventually turns negative, through to c) and d) with a very small effect
  • the literature is very limited in size and focuses on employee drivers

Drivers are likely to benefit the most [from tribunal orders] due to increased remuneration and fewer road accidents, followed by government and members of society who face costs following road crashes, and will therefore benefit from an improvement in safety.

You can read the full response from O’Connor’s spokeswoman here.

If you just read that Pricewaterhouse Coopers report excerpt above, you might think that the evidence is fairly mixed. In fact, the overwhelming weight of evidence supports Albanese’s claim: there is persuasive evidence of a connection between truck driver pay and safety.

What do other Australian studies say?

Australian studies conducted since the 1990s found a significant link between scheduling pressures, unpaid waiting time, insecure rewards and access to work, and hazardous practices such as speeding, excessive hours and drug use by drivers. The researchers found that those on trip-based payment schemes (typical for owner drivers but also increasing amongst employee drivers) drove on average 15km per hour faster than those on fixed rate payments (like hourly wages).

A 2001 study found drivers who were paid in terms of the amount of work they did reported fatigue more often than drivers who were paid in terms of the time they were working (for example, hourly rates).

An Australian study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2007 analysed drug use by drivers in both surveys and concluded that:

the strongest predictors of drug use were payment based on the amount of work completed and fatigue reported as a major problem … The strong association of payment by results and low pay with drug use among Australian long-distance truck drivers is consistent with other research suggesting that economic factors are an important influence on health and safety in the workplace.

An Australian survey of 300 long haul drivers found owner-drivers experienced significantly worse health scores than employee drivers, especially when employed on the most competitive route (Melbourne – Sydney).

Owner-drivers and drivers working for small firms reported more injuries than those employed by larger firms and owner-drivers had a slightly higher crash rate.

Another survey of Australian heavy vehicle drivers published in 2014 found:

piece-rate compensation methods were associated with higher levels of fatigue-related driving than non-piece-rate methods. Follow-up analysis also revealed higher caffeine and amphetamines use among piece-rate drivers for the purpose of staying awake while driving.

In that study, the authors found no association between compensation methods and sleepiness.

What do US studies say?

A US paper published in 2002 found that driver pay has a strong effect on safety outcomes.

Similarly, a large survey of long haul truck drivers undertaken by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the US detailed scheduling pressure on drivers, widespread unsafe driving practices, regulatory non-compliance and failure to report injuries.

Safety outcomes should not be confined to crashes, although understandably these are the focus of policy and public debate. Safety outcomes include unsafe work practices (like excessive hours, speeding, poor maintenance of trucks and use of drugs).

Most of the research has relied on cross-sectional surveys of drivers, meaning they analyse a snapshot of data from a population at a given moment in time (as opposed to longitudinal studies, which follow the same people over time). Cross-sectional surveys can have limitations.

Comparing safety outcomes between employee and owner drivers is also difficult because owner drivers are much more sensitive to market ups and downs. There has been a convergence of conditions between employee and owener-drivers, especially in the small firms (for example, many employee drivers are paid on trip-based rates now and Award non-compliance has also grown due to competitive pressures). Most truck safety studies have not examined this.

Nonetheless, the research findings are clear and consistent.

Verdict

Albanese was correct. There is persuasive evidence of a connection between truck driver pay and safety. – Michael Quinlan


Review

This is an excellent brief summary of the literature. Albanese is quite right that “safe rates” gets the public a safer outcome. The literature the expert cites is quite competent (Australians are way ahead of Americans on this) and is some of the same literature I would cite, and have cited, in my own work. I see that this expert has cited my work, which I modestly think is valid and has been peer reviewed.

Studies my team performed for the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Administration in 2002 demonstrated that higher compensation led to significantly safer truck driver performance. For every 10% more in truck driver mileage pay rate, a very large American truckload carrier found that the probability that a driver would have a crash declined 40%.

Research shows this effect is true across carriers. A cross-sectional study of 102 non-union truckload motor carriers found that for every 10% increase in truckie compensation, carriers’ crash rates were 9.2% lower.

In sum, there is ample evidence that supports the relationship between compensation and safety in trucking and across other modes. In my own work, I see it in intercity buses. In others’ work, I see it in airlines and even in rail. – Michael H. Belzer


Michael Quinlan, Director of the Industrial Relations Research Centre, UNSW Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.