How do you go about explaining to your kids about the Coronavirus?
- With so much news coverage about the potentially deadly nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, children may develop fears about the risk to their own health and safety.
- Experts say parents should listen to their children’s fears and not dismiss them.
- Before explaining to your kids about the Coronavirus, parents should make sure they have an understanding of the virus first.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a profound health concern for most people right now. But for kids taking in the news, fears surrounding it may be especially daunting.
So, how can parents help their children manage their fears, while also remaining aware and alert themselves?
Here’s how experts advise parents to approach the topic of the COVID-19 outbreak and talk to their kids about the potential risks.
Figure out whether or not to open the discussion
If your kids are already expressing their concerns by asking you about the virus, then as parents you should be making yourself available to help them work through those fears.
But, should you be bringing it up if your child has not said anything yet?
Haley Neidich, a licensed mental health professional, and practicing psychotherapist, said that parents should be aware their kids may have concerns, even if they aren’t talking about them.
According to Neidich,
Just because your child doesn’t bring it up to you, does not mean it’s not on their mind,
Ideally, as parents, you would have open communications with your kids so they can come to you with questions. Judging by the behavior and situation you can also bring up these topics with your kids if you believe it is necessary and will be helpful.
Beware of the risks of explaining to your kids about the Coronavirus
Before approaching your kids to discuss what they may be seeing on the news or getting to know from their friends, you should make sure you have a good understanding of the virus.
You’ll want to be able to answer your kids’ questions honestly, which is why the CDC can be a great resource.
Dr. Teena Chopra, medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at DMC Harper University Hospital, said that
parents should inform their kids that what is known about the virus at this point that it is a respiratory virus
She also said that as parents you could use examples of comparing the Covid19 to other viruses and talk about how hand hygiene is the most important thing to prevent the virus.
Dr.Chopra also added that parents should be teaching their kids to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds after bathroom use, before eating and after going to public places.
Also, teach your kids that they should avoid touching their Mouth, Eyes, and Nose.
Here’s a video you could show to your kids to educate them properly on the matter:
How to talk to your kid about the Coronavirus
According to Neidich, you should listen to your children’s fears and not dismiss them. She explained that this could be accomplished by practicing active listening.
In a nutshell, give your fullest attention to your children and acknowledge their feelings out loud.
Help them understand the facts rather than rumors about the virus when developmentally appropriate
Obviously this requires managing our own fears surrounding the illness. This is why as responsible parents it is imperative that you educate yourself on what is going on and how you can best protect yourself.
Make sure you first check in with yourself and consider how your fears may be impacting your children.
According to Neidich
When a parent is anxious, their child is going to feel that anxiety and take it on, regardless of how well they think they mask or hide their anxiety
The most important thing is to continue having open communication as a family.
If your child is experiencing worries or concerns, you don’t want them to keep those in. Talk about those fears, rely upon the data we currently have to assuage those fears when possible and don’t be afraid to turn off the news if necessary.
It’s sometimes okay to step away from the current news cycle for the benefit of you and your child’s mental health.
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