6 Tips on Talking to Your Kids About the Coronavirus
The coronavirus is all anyone is talking about these days, and with good reason. The sheer amount of closings and cancelations is unprecedented in recent memory. With all that parents are worrying about when it comes to this virus, kids may be left in the dark, hearing only bits and pieces of news from teachers or kids on the playground. Many parents are wondering how to bring up the coronavirus to their kids, what to say, and what not to say.
Here is some advice from us at Alta.
1. Be intentional about having the conversation. It is important to have that conversation with your kids. “Avoiding talking with your kids about the coronavirus can actually cause kids to worry more,” explains Alta CEO Joe Shorokey. This is a great opportunity to present the facts, dismiss any myths that they may have heard, and ultimately calm them of any anxieties they may be feeling.
2. Limit the information. It could be easy to overload and overwhelm your child with information about the virus and its’ effects. Only volunteer the basic facts that you deem appropriate, and try to answer questions honestly and clearly. Before starting the conversation, have a plan on what information you will be sharing. It may be best to write down some brief key facts to help limit the amount of information.
3. Invite them to ask questions. As every parent knows, kids are naturally curious beings. Invite them to talk about what they have heard and ask any questions that they may have. Even if you are unable to answer every question, it is important for your child to be able to talk through what they have been hearing, seeing, thinking, and feeling.
4. Stress hygiene and cleanliness. It is important to remind your children how to stay germ-free. “When kids are told how to keep themselves safe, they feel empowered and motivated to follow through,” says Shorokey. Coronavirus is transmitted by coughing and touching surfaces. Encourage your children to avoid touching their face, to wash their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song), and to cough into their arm.
5. Remain calm and reassuring. If you are panicked, your kids will follow suit and panic. It is important to stay calm when talking with your kids. In addition, your child will probably become scared that they will contract the coronavirus. It may be helpful to reassure your child that the coronavirus is still rare and that symptoms for kids are actually milder.
6. Keep the conversation going. Talking about the coronavirus shouldn’t be an every-hour ordeal, but it also shouldn’t be a one-time occurrence. Tell your kids that you will continue to keep them updated with new information. “An open line of communication between a parent and child is extremely important,” says Shorokey. “One conversation will most likely not be enough to calm all of their anxieties.”
Remember, it is important to have this conversation in the first place! Teaching children good hygiene and positive preventive measures are extremely important. Talking them through their fears of the coronavirus, and giving them a sense of control over their risk of infection can help calm their anxieties. We hope these tips have been helpful. Stay safe!