Tips for Talking to Your Child about COVID-19Posted: March 17, 2020
With all of the news about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it can be challenging to know what to share with your children. Should you talk with children about potentially scary events? Yes!
Children are observant and pick up on the cues of the adults around them. They are often listening even when we may think they are not, so it is important to talk with them about what is going on in the world, even if it may be scary or overwhelming to us as adults. How do you know what to say, especially when information is constantly changing and often overwhelming? Here are some tips to help:
- Ask questions appropriate for your child’s age to better understand what they know. They have most likely heard this discussed at school, at home, on TV or through social media. Learning what they have already heard will help you know where to start the conversation.
- Explain things in child friendly terms that are appropriate for their development. There are resources provided below that make the coronavirus a little easier to understand.
- Be honest. If they ask questions you don’t know the answer to, it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” Research the answers to their questions with them by utilizing credible sources of information, such as the CDC.
- Let them know we are still learning about this virus and have new information every day. You can share with them the common symptoms, and that kids don’t seem to be getting as sick as adults. This may raise questions about the adults in their life, which give the opportunity to share the things you are doing to try and keep everyone healthy.
- Empower them to have control over their health. Discuss proper hand hygiene, not touching their face and good coughing and sneezing habits. Choose a fun song they can sing while washing their hands to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned. Remembering to not touch your face or cough/sneeze into your elbow can be challenging, especially for kids. Find ways to make this fun and more like a game to help them be successful with these practices.
- Practice what you preach. Your children are watching you, so be sure you are following the same practices you expect of them.
- Turn off the TV or social media, spend time together and engage in play. Kids sense when the adults in their lives are worried, so finding activities to stay busy and have fun may help everyone feel less stressed.
Additional Resources to help understand and explain coronavirus:
- A comic book exploring the new coronavirus from NPR
- Messages for parents, school staff and others working with children from the CDC
- Video on how to speak with your children about the new coronavirus from the Child Mind Institute