How to talk to your child about coronavirus disease? Children are very attentive observers and you cannot hide the truth from them, especially when the information comes from TV, from parents, friends and teachers. When you talk to a child about the new coronavirus, you need to do it carefully and approach the matter delicately. It is very likely that the child himself will speak with you on this subject. Give the child a chance to speak and ask questions. Ask what he knows about the virus. In this way you will have an idea what the kid heard, what fears he has, etc.
Parents need to understand that the pandemic coronavirus disease (COVID-19) affects the life of everyone and it is normal that children are anxious and concerned not only for their own health, bot for the well being and safety of their friends and family members. We are all witnessing the growing numbers of people affected by coronavirus and the situation changes daily. Many countries closed kindergartens, schools, universities, restaurants and governments strongly recommend citizens to stay at home. School trips, sports tournaments, plans for trips and vacations have been cancelled. Thinking that all this does not affect children is wrong. Experts give some guidelines how to talk about children about coronavirus disease and we shall list the most important ones below.
Be calm, don’t panic and be truthful
There is no need to panic and feel stressed. The best thing a parent can do is speak the truth and not try to go around the topic or avoid answers if a child asks questions about coronavirus. The goal is to calm the child and make him feel sure and safe. Parents (adults) should be honest and provide accurate information, taking into account the age and developmental level of their child, of course. Yes, there are many questions that cannot be answered and yes, the situation changes from one day to the other, but adults need to explain to children, especially to small ones, that doctors, scientists and many other people are working hard to protect other people and keep them safe. It is important to talk in a calm tone rather than in an anxious way.
Fears and myths about coronavirus disease
As good and informative media can be, quoting numbers of infected, ill or dead people every day, may make a child think that everyone who got infected by coronavirus will die. Most children at school age have internet access and whether we want it or not, coronavirus is all over the internet. In addition inaccurate information may come from friends, siblings and it is the parent who should explain that these “sources” are not necessarily correct. That is why it is important to let the child talk so that you can understand if he misinterprets the news flood or have some fears and concerns.
Teach children how to protect themselves
As a parent you can explain children how to protect themselves. Show them how to wash their hands properly, repeat that they should use a tissue if coughing, or cough into their sleeve, instead of their hand, etc. Try to maintain a normal routine and keep to the usual schedule.
Many schools are working on-line, so children should do their schoolwork. There are many other activities for the free time to keep them busy and engaged. In case they go out, make sure that they wear a face mask.