Talking to Children About Coronavirus
With tons of information on the internet and social media around novel coronavirus (COVID-19), you want to make sure your children have the accurate prevention information and facts.
Helping children understand and make sense of what they hear and read will help minimize anxiety or fear they may be feeling.
Find Out What Your Child Knows
This will give you a chance to learn if they're hearing the wrong information and an opportunity to address it.
Don't ignore their concerns. Give information that is truthful and age-appropriate.
For older children, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.
If your child asks a question you don't know the answer to, research it together. Remember to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for up-to-date, reliable information. For state and local updates. visit https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/. And this site has a wealth of information on the facts about coronavirus including:
- Kids and Masks
- Mask Myths and Facts
- How to Protect From the Virus
- Deciding If It's Safe to Go Out
- Coronavirus Immunity
Remain Calm and Reassuring
Keep in mind that children will react to and follow your verbal and non-verbal reactions.
Speak calmly and reassuringly, and try not to seem upset.
Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
Children respond to stress differently. Some common signs and behaviors to look out for are:
- Excessive irritation
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown
- Trouble sleeping or difficulty with attention and concentration
Monitor TV Viewing and Social Media
Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
Watch the news with your kids so you can filter what they hear. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media and computers. Learn more about how to stay well while staying in.
More Tips for Talking With Kids about the Pandemic
- Explain to kids that getting plenty of sleep, avoiding touching their face and washing their hands thoroughly and often can help them stay healthy.
- Teach kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue (making sure to throw it away after each use) or to cough and sneeze into their arm or elbow instead of their hands.
- Stick to their normal schedule as best as you can. When at home with kids during the pandemic, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing and fun activities.
- Encourage children to stay connected with others by reaching out via phone or Skype.
- Make yourself available when your child would like to talk. Children may need extra attention during this time to discuss their concerns and fears.