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Talking to your child about COVID-19

posted Mar 18, 2020, 7:22 AM by Erik Olson   [ updated Mar 18, 2020, 7:22 AM ]

PARENTS/GUARDIANS

Most of us are experiencing a wide range of emotions related to the COVID-19 outbreak. We may be concerned about its impact on family members, friends, schools, events, travel plans, the news and media, and the unknown. As more and more Americans are impacted by COVID-19, directly or indirectly, conversations about it are likely to increase. There are many publications about how to talk with children about the coronavirus. Here are some tips, followed by the links if you’d like to read more. 

  • Remain calm & reassuring: children can sense when adults are stressed which can raise their stress-levels. It’s important to avoid making jokes, but also to avoid making sweeping promises like, “everything will be ok.” Remind children that professionals in the medical and public health communities are doing everything they can to help Americans stay healthy. 

  • Take time to listen to children about how they feel. This can be an opportunity to ease the stress children may be experiencing simply by giving them a chance to express how they feel, ask questions, and talk about their concerns in a calm manner. 

  • Avoid blaming groups of people as it relates to the spread of the virus. Now is a time to focus on a collective safe and healthy community. 

  • Monitor intake of social media and news:

    •  If you hear children talking about a source of information, you can use this as an opportunity to educate about the validity of different news sources. 

  • Empower students to stay healthy and reduce the possible spread of COVID-19. 

    • People typically feel better when they know how they can help. 

    • Teach students the best practices for staying healthy that we’ve been told by CDC, Idaho Panhandle Health, and LPOSD.  

  • Make sure the facts you share are developmentally appropriate. 

    • Adolescents are more likely to want to engage in an adult level conversation. 

    • Younger children require fewer facts and more fact-based reassurance. 

  • Talk about healthy coping strategies during uncertain and stressful times. 

    • Children (and adults) may need reminders of what they do to keep themselves physically and mentally healthy. 

    • We are resilient, and we can build resilience in our children. 

  • Create a daily schedule for your family. It’s helpful to have consistency during this uncertain time. 

Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus) A Parent Resource: from the National Association of School Psychologists and School Nurses. This is comprehensive and can be used as a guide for conversations at home and school. 

Talking to kids about the coronavirus: a ChildMind Institute publication with a video and article.