Talk to your kids about COVID-19

Talk to your kids about COVID-19


Monday, April 06, 2020

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WITH new information on the COVID-19 disease surfacing every day, keeping abreast of what's accurate and what's not can leave parents feeling quite exhausted. On top of this, there is the added stress of breaking down information on a virus you too are learning about daily, to your curious young child tugging at the hem of your dress for answers. Of course, talking about a topic like COVID-19 can seem quite intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. The tips below should help you to navigate this talk.

Keep your child's age in mind

The most important thing that you should keep in the back of your mind is your child's age. This means that language is important. You want to make sure you put things in the simplest words that your child can understand.

Ask the child what he/she understands

The best way to know what your child already knows is by asking what he or she knows about it. So, for example, ask, “Do you know why we have to stay inside now?” or, “Have you been listening to the news about the virus making a lot of people sick?” Your child's response to these questions will guide your conversation.

Talk to your child calmly

When speaking to your child you want to make sure that you are calm and that you reassure him/her. Children can sense when you are uncertain or worried. You don't want them to start panicking or get anxious. You want them to know that you are there to support them, and reassure them with supporting statistics. You may also want to tell them why every member of the family must play his/her part to ensure that everyone remains safe.

Filter news for your child

Whether it came from grandma, the TV or a social media site, parents must identify false information and re-educate their children. For older children who may have access to a variety of information sources, teach them which sources are credible and which are not.

Allow them to express themselves

Naturally, when you share information, especially for children who understand the potential risks of contracting the virus, it is normal for them to be scared or even anxious. Let them know it's okay to feel the way they do. If your child is struggling with emotions, whether it's fear or anxiety, for example, you want to reassure them that it is okay to feel this way.

Allow them to keep in touch with family

Thanks to social media, social distancing does not mean not seeing our loved ones. To keep them from getting overly concerned over their uncle with asthma because of the complications that they heard could develop in people with underlying illnesses, or their grandparents who they may not be able to visit or hug, make sure that you call them using both video and voice.

Use the experience as a teaching moment

Use the experience to teach little ones the importance of proper hygiene. When talking to them about the virus you can also teach them about the different body parts. Also share small tips, like let us avoid kissing at this time, try not to touch your face, and try not to put your hand in your face. Challenge them if you must and give them rewards when you see them practising this.

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