How to talk to your child about COVID – 19 (Coronavirus)
As news of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to spread, it is important that families prepare their children for various conversations surrounding the outbreak. The following suggestions provide some tips on how to communicate information to your child about Coronavirus.
- Limit your child's exposure to media reports. Ask your children what they know about Coronavirus, about their source for information, and help guide the youth toward methods for identifying reliable sources. Normalize your child's worry. Let your child know that worry is a normal response to the conditions surrounding the outbreak. Answer your child’s questions directly and with just the facts.
- You can model and instruct your child on basic infection control measures such as handwashing while singing the happy birthday song twice, coughing into your elbow, and keeping unclean hands away from one's face. These measures will aid in giving your child a sense of control over something they may not understand or fear.
- Try to avoid placing your children in the position of helping parents with their anxiety. It is the parent's job to help the child feel safe.
- Remain alert for changes in your child's behavior that signal distress. Worry or emotional stress can cause physical symptoms such as
- Changes in eating habits
- Clingy behavior
- Sudden withdrawal behavior
- disruptions to sleep patterns (cannot sleep, sleeping too much)
- upset stomach
- muscle tension
- nervous energy
- inability to concentrate
- unexplained muscle and or headaches
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and when in doubt, contact your physician for guidance.
- Reiterate the importance of proper hygiene practices to your child.
- Keep information tailored to your child's age and maturity level. Preschool children may not be able to handle as much detail as a teenager.
- Communication with very young children can include drawing pictures or playing games while engaging in conversation.
- Be patient, empathetic, and affirming. Dealing with worrisome thoughts is not easy; it takes time, support, and practice. However, thorough remaining committed to living in the present, focusing energy toward effective solutions, and accumulating facts from reliable sources, Parents can communicate reassurance in their child's ability to understand and cope with messages surrounding the Coronavirus.