Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Although children may be less at risk of contracting the novel Coronavirus, they are not immune to the emotional disruption of the virus. As schools close and schedules change, talking to kids about Coronavirus is an important way to keep children calm. Here are four tips to keep in mind.
1. Validate any emotions or fears kids may have about the virus. Use statements and questions like:
- How do you feel about everything that is going on?
- I can see how all of this can make you feel _____ (repeat the emotion the child said).
- What we saw on TV would definitely make me afraid, too.
2. Use AND statements to reassure them that everything that is happening is meant to keep people healthy. Reaffirm that the child will be safe with facts, such as:
- I understand that you are feeling scared, AND they are closing schools to help keep everyone safe.
- A lot of people are sick, AND we need to make sure that we wash our hands often and avoiding touching our face.
3. Empower the child to do his or her part to protect others:
- We can all stay healthy by not touching our eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Staying home when you feel sick and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue will slow down the spread of the virus.
4. Stay calm yourself. Here are some facts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that will put minds at ease, for children and adults:
- For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can greatly reduce the risk of infection, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.