Kids are probably hearing things about the Coronavirus at school, and parents are wondering how to talk to them to ease their fears. How to talk to your kids about the Coronavirus? How much information should you be sharing to your kids about Covid-19?
I asked Sara Dimerman who is a psychologist, author and parenting expert, some questions about how to talk to your kids about the Coronavirus and ease their anxiety and fears.
How to Talk to Your Kids About the Coronavirus
Q. How should parents talk to their kids to help ease any anxiety? Should they have a family meeting, individual conversations, talk to the school?
A. I had a young boy in my office today who is generally anxious. But today he was especially so because although it appears that the teachers did a good job of reminding students of the importance of hand hygiene, he overheard a conversation between his teacher and another adult when they may have thought the students were otherwise engaged. He heard something about a frenzy at Costco and how nervous everyone is and buying all the paper products off the shelf. Although he couldn’t quite make sense of why paper products? Why Costco? He did know that they were talking about the Coronavirus and he could sense the panic in their voices and so this escalated his anxiety
So my advice to all adults – parents and teachers alike – be careful not only about how you are directly presenting information about this to children but be mindful about what you are sharing with one another in the presence of children. Whether you think so or not, they ARE listening!
There’s so much being spoken about on the news, through social media, on the streets, that it’s impossible to shield your children from what is going on around them. Instead, use what you see and hear together as opportunities to talk more. Let them know, if they hear or see talk about it, that there are lots of very intelligent and caring adults who are working hard at making sure that people are safe. Are working at figuring out how to keep everyone well. Help them to feel that they are being taken care of, in other words.
I don’t recommend a family meeting because this can set an ominous tone, but instead, find appropriate times to remind them about the importance of washing hands regularly (show them how you wash yours) and why it’s never a good idea to put fingers in one’s mouth or up one’s nose, even at the best of times.
Q. What are some age-appropriate strategies and tips we should provide our kids (from elementary through to high school)?
For Younger Kids:
- Remind them about good hand washing strategies
- remind them that it’s important to wash hands before eating
- Remind them about coughing or sneezing into one’s sleeves rather than into their hands
- remind them about not sharing food or drink with others
For Older Kids:
- Remind them about how germs can be spread through kissing and hand-holding. They don’t have to stop holding hands with people, but to be mindful about washing those hands before putting them near their mouth, nose or eyes. And not to take chances of getting sick by kissing someone who is.
- Comfort kids of all ages with the knowledge that most people get well after they have the Coronavirus unless they are particularly vulnerable
Q. What are the most important things should we share with kids about coronavirus?
- There are a lot of viruses but this is a new one, so people are still figuring out the best way to treat people who have it, and that’s why people are more concerned about this one
- There are a lot of intelligent, helpful and knowledgeable adults who are working together to stop the spread of the virus and to help people who are sick with it
- They have the power to stay well and keep germs away by doing things such as washing hands and not putting their fingers near their mouth, eyes or nose before washing their hands.
For more information about Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), please click here.