This is the best health podcast brought to you by wake forest Baptist health in partnership with MedCost. Good day. Welcome back to the best health podcast. Thanks everyone for listening out there.
Um, for our, uh, latest episode, we are going to be talking with dr Linda Nicoletti. So welcome doc. How are you doing? I'm good, thanks for having me. We'll um, I appreciate you being here with us today. Um, so what we're going to talk about today, here in a second, uh, for everyone listening is, um, you know what, what has been kind of the topic of the day here lately is COVID-19 / Coronavirus and um, there's a lot of information out there. Some of it is accurate information, some of it is less accurate. Um, so I'll just start off by saying we encourage everyone to go to wakehealth.edu/coronavirus and that is a great resource. Uh, that's been vetted by our experts here at wake forest Baptist health. We have a myths versus facts, um, fact sheet on there. Um, we have some other contents, some videos, informational videos. Um, so I encourage everyone to check that out and, and get some good, um, uh, accurate information. Now, dr Nick [inaudible], I'm really excited that she's joining us because she's going to give us some specific insight in, um, in how to talk with children about COVID-19 Coronavirus. Um, so if you just want to start off doc, by giving us a little bit of background about yourself and um, what you do day to day and, and how you got into the healthcare healthcare field. Sure.
Be happy to. So I'm a pediatric psychologist. I work at wake forest Baptist health and the department of pediatrics. And at the hospital I do a number of different things. So I see in patients on the medical side. I also work in the gastro intestinal pediatric clinic a couple of days a week. And then I have a caseload of patients that I see as well. In addition, I'm the section head for pediatric psychology and behavioral health and the department of pediatrics. And we have a growing team there.
Great. Great. That's good information. You know, we're so blessed to have the resource of burner children's hospital in this area and all the expertise and knowledge that comes with with that. So we appreciate you taking time. I know it's a busy time for you. Um, so I'm just gonna start off, uh, just, you know, people listening, they might have a different, uh, understanding or might have different levels of information about Coronavirus and COVID-19. Um, but at the basic level, you know, and this has come up in my own house with my, with my children, um, you know, how do
we, if, if the kids haven't already brought it up themselves, how do we break the ice so to speak? How do even willing start having this conversation? It seems to have taken over our media cycle. They're probably hearing about it at school from friends or staff at school and you know, who knows what their friends are saying. So what's kind of a good initial first baseline step to take? Yeah, I agree. By this point, probably most children and especially older children and adolescents have heard about COVID-19. Um, and probably have some thoughts, questions, feelings about it. So I think it is a great idea to bring it up with your children. Keep lines of communication open. Um, you might start off by asking them, you know, what they've heard about it, what they've seen about it, what people are saying about it, you know, do they have friends or peers at school who are talking about it?
Have teachers mentioned anything? Have they pet any exposure on social media or seen any news snippets from it. Gotcha, gotcha. So, um, based on kind of the answers they give back to you, um, what's, what's the best next step to take with them? Show you kind of sit down and have a family meeting? I noticed, you know, some kids might be nervous that new, they hear about this, this virus that they don't know much about. Do they? Maybe, do they think they have it or they're going to get it? Um, would, would you talk about that and kinda how to talk to them about that process? Yeah. So I think that question brings up a few different issues perhaps. So to help kids feel more safe with it? Um, definitely finding out what their concerns are. Um, I think presenting facts to them based on what they know and clearing up any misconceptions that they talked to you about.
I think it's important that they're getting the accurate information. Um, helping them know the facts that children appear to be less likely to get it. Also tend to have more mild cases, may only be symptomatic for several days in the best case scenario if they do get it and that you and doctors and government officials and schools are actively working on keeping them safe and there are things that they can do to keep themselves safe too so you can practice with them and talk about appropriate hand-washing hygiene, using Purell if it's available, um, letting you know if they feel sick, if they're getting some symptoms or letting teachers know. I'm also just generally avoiding people who are sick, the social distancing that's been talked about. So there's lots of ways that parents can help children feel safe.
Sure. That's, that's great information. And to kind of follow up on that. So, um, you know, if you have children in your household or, or come in contact or you know, if you're a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, um, you know, you're probably gonna talk with a seven year old differently than you're going to talk to a 16 year old about this. Right? So if you want to touch base on that, just kind of age appropriate conversations and content and um, what parents can maybe, uh, take, uh, some guidance on.
Yeah, I do think lots of families have children of different ages and developmental levels. So it's important to take that into consideration as well as just a child's personality and whether or not they may have some anxiety to start with. I think generally for younger kids it's important to give more concise information, tell them what they need to know, answer questions that they have, but give them more simple and direct answers. Older kids and adolescents are probably going to be more sophisticated and their knowledge base, they'll probably have more informed questions. They're probably going to want more detailed information. They've probably read or seen more about it. So I think in most cases it's appropriate to give older kids and adolescents more information. And a good rule of thumb to guide parents is that if children or an adolescent is asking a question, then it's usually appropriate to answer it honestly. Um, and also just keep in mind, try to avoid presenting too much information at once. Is that contend to overwhelm children.
Okay. So maybe break it up into little little nuggets of information that you shared along the way. I think that's a good idea. Okay. So you know, to the, to your point of, of old teenagers or you know, it seems as the kids are getting smartphones younger and younger and younger these days, um, you know, if they're older they probably have, chances are they have a smart phone and they have social media accounts and they may have seen some information on social media. Um, so I think the, your point about providing accurate information, um, as opposed to what maybe they read on social media that might be true or not. Right?
Yeah. I think having that discussion with your children, cause I know a lot of younger kids do have access to social media even if they're using a parent's phone. So I think it's important to find out what they've been reading about, what they've been seeing, what they've been looking at. Um, and it's important to help them decide what's fact versus fiction. Sure.
And, um, you know, I think maybe you can help us understand this a little bit better too. So, you know, as, as adults, you know, the good quote unquote, we, we have, we're adulting. We have, we have the quote unquote real stress, right? We have jobs, we have bills, we have, you know, whatever's happening in our day to day lives. And I think sometimes some adults are, um, you know, they might be quick to say, if a kid is having some sort of stress, um, or anxiety, um, it might be dismissed maybe a little quicker than it should. And, um, you know, as, as you see, I'm sure day in and day out, anxiety and stress are very real issues for, for some children. Um, so how would this international, you know, the, the world health organization has identified it as a pandemic now, you know, adding this might add stress to someone, especially children whom I already, um, have some sort of anxiety or stress in their life. So maybe talk to us a little bit about that and how we can address that as parents, if that is a situation that we face.
Yeah, I think stick to the facts is always a good idea for kids who tend to be a little more anxious about it. I think letting them talk about their feelings is important. Validating their feelings is also important, but also helping to dispel any rumors that they may have or misconceptions that they may have. Um, you know, kids with anxiety tend to focus on the negative thoughts that they're having and those thoughts tend to come automatically. So helping them find other things to focus on other distractions and really limiting exposure for those kids, I think is a good idea. Sure.
So, and, and I'm sure you do this in your daily job, but there's, there's methods and practices in place, um, for children experiencing anxiety, um, for, for, to help them kind of work through those anxious situations. Right. Um, so do you, I know, you know, you can talk for hours and hours about that where there are a couple of kind of just quick, you know, practices that you'd like to give to parents when you're out talking to parents about, you know, here's what we can do. We can, you know, redirect or, or whatever. Some of the top kind of pieces of advice you give just in general for anxiety.
Yeah. Well for, I would say maybe more mild or moderate cases, um, try to get your kids to talk about what their thought processes are. If they're able to identify that, like what exactly are they worried about? Um, that gives you some information so that you can try to talk to them about fact versus fiction. I think that distinction is important. And, and thinking rationally and thinking about what is more likely to happen, even though there are certain possibilities out there, focus on staying safe I think and what they can do and how they can control that for themselves. Just for example, by you know, washing hands before they eat and um, maybe after being out in public, um, is one way they can get more control. Um, I think for parents who are wondering, you know, does my child maybe need more professional services? How can I tell when that might be appropriate? Um, you can look at any kind of changes in your child's behavior or mood. Um, pay attention to their sleep. Are they having more trouble sleeping? Has their appetite changed? Do they seem to be having less fun? Are they having more difficulty focusing on schoolwork? Do they seem more distracted? You know, if that persists then it's probably time to bring it up with a primary care doctor and that may indicate that more professional services would be helpful.
Sure, sure. And, you know, just as a quick aside, if people have questions about that, um, you can of course find information on, on the Wake Forest Baptist Health website wakehealth.edu as well as their burner children's website. Um, so feel free to go to those websites and check out some of the information we have. Um, we're back to COVID-19 and Coronavirus, doc wood, you know, it's, it's, uh, almost seemingly constant, uh, information coming in now. It's, it's taken up the bulk of time on the new cycles. So how, how often should we talk with our kids about this? I mean, is it, we'd talk about it every night at dinner, do we, you know, bring it up and then try and not talk about it again? What are your thoughts there on then?
That's a good question. Um, it's such a rapidly developing situation, especially in our community right now. And so I think, um, the news is changing hourly. Sometimes. At least daily. We're getting new information. So I think for older kids, um, you know, touch base with them every few days, check in, see, you know, have they heard anything new, you know, you can talk to them about any new developments again to make sure that they're sticking with the facts. For younger kids it may be best to stick with need to know type information, um, but still check in with them periodically. I don't think it's probably a good idea to make this the focus of dinner conversation. I think it benefit kids to keep dinner conversation a little lighter, but also touching base to see if they have any new concerns or new information.
Well, you know, dr Nicola, this is been really helpful. This is something that, you know, has happened in my own personal household and I'm sure it's happening. Um, you know, the conversation is happening around thousands of other in, around our area and in our community. So, um, we appreciate you taking the time today and visiting the best health podcast studio. Um, you know, in closing what, what going forward [inaudible] there's next week or in two weeks or in a month, we're not sure what the situation's going to be. Um, but just kind of as a, uh, a departing question would be, so your kids, um, in my own personal experience and you, you jump in and offer, please offer your professional thoughts. But you know, kids are pretty resilient. Um, and they, they are, um, they're more observant maybe than we sometimes give them credit for. Sure. Um, so, you know, what are your advice? What's your advice to parents about how parents conduct themselves? You know, um, you know, should, I guess we want to evoke a calming state if at all possible around the household.
I think that's, that's good advice. I think it's best if parents can be mindful of their own behaviors and their own conversations. Sometimes we feel like kids aren't listening. Maybe, you know, they're in a different room and we think they're out of ear shot, but they still are hearing what we're saying. So I think for parents just to be mindful of that and of what message that their own conversations or behavior might be sending to their children and um, to help try to manage your own anxiety about it because I think as we're getting more and more news and if, if the stores a store shelves and um, lack of Purell and toilet paper is any indication, I think people are, are worried and they're doing their best to prepare, but just be mindful of what message or preparations might be sending to kids and don't overdo it.
That's great advice. I think. Thank you for sharing that. Um, you know, as we said earlier, feel free to visit wakehealth.edu/Coronavirus for the latest, um, uh, information that our health system is, is sharing with the community about best practices for, for Covid-19 and Coronavirus overall. Um, and um, we'll keep adding resources such as the podcast links and videos and more information, um, to that website as we get more information to share. So I want to thank you, doctor for joining us today. I want to thank everyone for listening out there until we talk to you next time. Please
be well, thanks for listening to this episode of the best health podcast brought to you by wake forest Baptist health. For more wellness info, check out wakehealth.edu and follow us on social media. Wake Forest Baptist Health, the gold standard of health care.
Please note that this is an automated transcription and we do not guarantee the accuracy of transcribed content.