Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus
Talking about Coronavirus and the effects on our daily lives can be stressful or scary for anyone – but especially for children, who may not understand what the virus is and the reasons for isolation.
It’s important to let children know, above all, that they are safe and that everything is going to be okay. Here are some resources you can use to teach your children about pandemics and the reasons for the public safety measures being put into place around the world.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html
The CDC has advice for talking to children in a reassuring manner. They also provide facts you can share with kids to make the outbreak seem less scary.
- Harvard Medical School – https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-talk-to-children-about-the-coronavirus-2020030719111
Harvard Medical school recommends modeling calmness during the crisis. They also suggest limiting the news intake in your household so that kids aren’t exposed to information that they aren’t ready to process.
- Many children are exposed to rumors and myths about Coronavirus from other children. This page from the World Health Organization https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters ‘busts’ some of the most common myths about the disease. These include myths about climates where the disease can live and spread, false preventive measures you can take, and other rumors that are spread via social media and email.
- The National Association of School Psychologists recommends teachers and parents limit TV and social media exposure and make time to talk to kids and answer questions about COVID-19. https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/helping-children-cope-with-changes-resulting-from-covid-19.
They also suggest tailoring responses to questions based on the age of the child, keeping answers short and reassuring for smaller kids and saving more in-depth answers for older children and teens.
- UC Health recommends being truthful with children when talking about the COVID-19 outbreak, even when the child is asking difficult questions. https://www.uchealth.org/today/tips-for-talking-to-children-about-the-coronavirus/
It’s important to be comforting, but honest about the outbreak, especially if the child knows someone who is sick.
Experts universally recommend reassuring children that they, personally, are going to be fine – and that life will eventually go on as before. Let them know they’ll be able to see school friends, teachers and relatives again after the outbreak is contained and safety can be guaranteed.
Communication is also key – find out what your child already ready knows about Coronavirus, and help them work through any anxiety or stress they have by dispelling myths and false information that they may have heard from other children.
Above all, make sure kids know that YOU are there as a protector and resource while we battle the coronavirus pandemic.