Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

As the mother of two young children, one of the things that I have found most challenging has been how to reassure my kids about COVID 19 and the disruptive changes that it has caused in their lives. Here are some tips that I have implemented and have found tremendously helpful:

Don’t be afraid to talk to your child. Children listen to parents’ conversations even when they are not included in the conversation. Not talking to kids directly about something can actually make them worry more. Address the disruption that COVID 19 has caused. Look at the conversation as an opportunity to better understand your child’s fear, anger or disappointment. This is especially important for children who are facing milestone events like birthday or graduation celebrations that have had to be cancelled or altered.

Be developmentally appropriate. Keep the conversation simple so that your child can understand what your are saying to them. Try to encourage your child to ask questions. Do your best to answer honestly and clearly. It’s okay if you can’t answer everything: many kids have seen their summer plans put on pause as parents await to see how things unfold in the next few weeks.

Be optimistic: Life is about navigating uncertainties and seeing opportunity even in difficult times. What a great lesson for kids to learn now. Focus on the positive experiences that you have had as a family during quarantine and what you have learned about each other. Encourage your child to come up with creative ways to spend their time as we head into the summer.

Deal with your own anxiety. Uncertainty generates anxiety, even in adults. If you notice that you are feeling anxious, perhaps about your own job security, finances or a loved one’s health, take some time to calm down before having a conversation with your child. Children will sense your anxiety and will respond to that much more than your actual words.

Be reassuring and focus on what you’re going to do to stay safe, healthy and happy this summer. COVID 19 has made most us more aware of the importance of “healthy living”. Discuss with your child your family plan to get plenty of rest, eat an immune boosting diet, take vitamins and probiotics, get enough exercise and properly wash hands.

Stick to a routine. This will help give your child a sense of safety and security. Make sure you are taking care of the basics just like you would during a spring break or summer vacation. Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy.

Keep talking. Tell kids that you will continue to keep them updated as you learn more. Let them know that the lines of communication are going to be open and remind them that COVID 19 may have disrupted their lives but has not changed your love for them. A hug, particularly in these uncertain times, goes a long way.

Be well and stay safe,

Dr. Cascya Charlot

Adult and Pediatric Allergy & Immunology Specialist

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

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