Talking To Your Kids About Coronavirus
Guest Blogger Kerry Brown, Parent Connext Parenting Specialist, Beech Acres Parenting Center
During these uncertain times, it might feel overwhelming to share information about COVID-19 with your children. As parents, we sometimes think we are protecting by not telling them about scary things; as if shielding them will protect them from the bad feelings or discomfort in this stressful time. In reality, our children pick up on far more than we give them credit for. This is why it is important to share information with them but in an age-appropriate manner.
Clarify Facts for Your Kids
Sharing facts about COVID-19 can be done in a non-threatening way and actually alleviate some misconceptions they may have created in their minds by not telling them. When children hear something they don’t understand, they tend to create a story that makes sense to them. For example, I worked with a 6-year-old patient in the hospital who had edema. When I assessed his understanding of why he was in the hospital, he thought he had a demon in his body. He had heard the word edema said by the medical staff and his parents, but he had no context for that word, so the word that he did have a context for was a demon. Sometimes a child’s interpretation can be far more terrifying than if we had just explained what was going on.
Start The Conversation
If you have not had a conversation with your child about coronavirus or COVID-19, start with asking what they have heard about why we are staying home, or if they’ve heard the words coronavirus or COVID-19. If so, ask what they know and if they are wondering about anything. If not, start by explaining that it is a disease or illness that can make people feel sick. Coronavirus is very contagious. Contagious means it can spread or be shared between people very easily when we cough or sneeze. For kids, the virus has mostly been mild or not really bad, but it can be harder for older people (like grandma or grandpa) or people who are already sick, so to help keep them healthy and safe, we are staying home to not share or spread germs.
Explain What You CAN Do
There are things we can do and ways we can help, and one is by washing our hands a lot and sneeze or cough into our elbows. It’s also important to keep things clean, like doorknobs, faucets, tables, and counters. You can help at home by helping clean and keep your hands clean. You can also help by making cards for family members we aren’t able to see, or writing notes with chalk on the sidewalk to neighbors. We can also write thank you notes for doctors, nurses, grocery store staff, or anyone who still has to go to work to help us stay safe and healthy. Ask your child what they might want to do to help people feel better. Here are some links for great resources on talking with your children: