Reassuring Your Children About The Coronavirus. Tips from Dr. Christopher Bolling

Reassuring your kids during times of uncertainty is very important for your family’s well-being. As news of the coronavirus and its related respiratory disease COVID-19 continues to spread, Beech Acres Parenting Center board member and Pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of Northern Kentucky, Dr. Christopher F. Bolling has some tips to help parents navigate this developing scenario with your children.

Tips From a Pediatrician

Today the coronavirus/COVID 19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the city of Cincinnati declared a state of emergency. This news and these terms can be scary. Remember though, “pandemic” is just a term that allows governments and other agencies to talk about the developing situation around the globe. It enables them to say, ‘this is something we need to deal with, together, as a planet’. They declare it a pandemic to mobilize people to understand that this is something we need to control.

Control Measures Work

There is good evidence that control measures work. What happens when you implement control measures is that you slow the spread of the virus and allow health care professionals to take care of the sick. The goal is not to overwhelm the health care system so they can adapt and take care of sick people. Control measures help the health care system cope with the situation more effectively.

Talk To Your Kids

As with any serious conversation, you need to have with your children, whether it be death, serious illness, or a term like ‘pandemic,’ let your kids lead the conversation. Answer their questions fully. Be responsive and sensitive to what they are asking you. They may have questions or concerns such as; ‘Is it dangerous?’ Tell them, yes, it can be scary, especially for older people, but for kids, it’s not as scary. ‘I’m worried about grandma getting sick.” Let them know there are things we can do to protect the people we care about, like washing our hands, staying away from others if we are sick, and checking in on them via FaceTime or Skype to make sure they are OK. Give your children concrete things they can do. Parse the information out in easy to digest pieces, so it’s easier for them to understand. Let them guide you. Pause the conversation if they shut down on you as too much information can be overwhelming.

So far, coronavirus does not appear to be very serious for kids. No child under the age of 9 has died of COVID-19. People under 21 years of age do not seem to be as severely affected by coronavirus. COVID-19 appears to be the most severe for the elderly. Kids’ resistance does, however, make control more difficult because they may be asymptomatic and able to transmit the illness without any outward signs of illness.  So, it is even more critical that they are following preventive measures like hand washing, social distancing, and staying home when they are sick.

Stay Connected With Your Doctor, Practice Preventative Measures, and Stay Informed

In the coming days and weeks, stay in close contact with your doctor’s office, and see what recommendations they may have. Visit their website, read any emails or other communications they share, and talk to their nurses. Things may be a little different than what you are used to at your doctor’s or pediatrician’s office, so pay close attention to how your practice is directing you. Every office will be different.

Standard protections should continue in effect; again, hand washing, staying home when you’re sick, and limiting visits to the sick or elderly. During this time, you should pay special attention to any respiratory symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath. If you have those symptoms, please call your doctor.

Finally, the most important thing is to pay attention to local authorities and medical professionals about exposure. If they say stay home, stay home. These decisions are based on information from public health experts in your community and have everyone’s best interests in mind. Practice good infection control measures and stay informed with facts.

Christopher F. Bolling is a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates, P.S.C. and an active board member at Beech Acres Parenting Center.

Washing your hands is a good prevention measure to follow.