Talking to Kids About Coronavirus

talking to kids virus 2311

3 things kids need from parents right now:

With news swirling around us about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, kids need three things from parents right now:

Reassurance

Your number one job during this time is to help kids feel safe. Kids notice how you’re acting (and reacting) and hear what you’re saying, so be sure to manage your own anxiety and speak to them (and around them) when you’re calm and unemotional.

Allow kids to share freely and listen for words that indicate anxiety. Assure kids that it’s natural to feel concerned or even afraid and that you are available to answer questions any time. You might gently prompt kids with questions like, “Would you like to tell me what you’ve heard about the virus? Or “What are you wondering about the virus?” Follow their lead by answering their concerns and providing only the information they need. 

Kids worry more when kept in the dark, according to Jamie Howard, Director of Trauma and Resilience at The Child Mind Institute. “Parents don’t need to be afraid to talk with kids about the virus. They just need to talk in ways that reassure them, but don’t increase their worries.”

Accurate Age-Appropriate Information

Use language kids understand to share age-appropriate facts without exaggeration. Be sensitive to each child’s anxiety level and have separate conversations with older and younger children when necessary.

Listen for misconceptions kids may have picked up from friends and correct misinformation when you can. It’s OK to admit when you don’t have an answer. Just let kids know you will share information as it becomes available. Avoid using alarming language or headlines from the news and point out that not all information being shared about the virus is correct.

Now is a great time to help kids learn discernment about media consumption and accuracy. Resist the temptation to listen to or watch the news with kids in the room and manage your own stress by limiting the amount of time you’re plugged in. Get important COVID-19 updates from reliable sources such as websites for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov) and WHO (World Health Organization: www.who.int).

Simple Action Steps

Kids and parents feel better when they can do something, and there are action steps you can take together as a family. Have some fun talking about ways you can be germ-fighters from the comfort of your own home. Explain how staying at home is your family’s superpower that’s helping you and others stay healthy. Turn handwashing into a song break by singing one of your kid’s favorites. Happy Birthday twice or the ABCs once both take about 20 seconds, the recommended time for thoroughly cleaning hands. Help kids remember that not touching their face and using a tissue when they cough or sneeze are two more ways they’re winning the fight against germs.

Parents can help kids feel safe in these unsettling times by choosing comforting words, sharing age-appropriate information, and staying diligent. Keep the lines of communication open and make sure kids know they can return to you again and again when they need answers and reassurance.  

Find more kid-friendly answers to virus-related concerns:

www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html

www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-coronavirus

__________

Jody Lee Cates is a local mom and award-winning writer who blogs about healthy relationships at www.jodyleecates.com

__________

Talking to Kids About Coronavirus

Talking to Kids About Coronavirus

3 things kids need from parents right now: With news swirling around us about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, kids need three things from parents right now: Reassurance Your number one jo . . .

Read more

10 Steps to an Allergy-Safe School Year

10 Steps to an Allergy-Safe School Year

For parents of children with food allergies, starting a new school year can seem daunting. As the mom of a daughter with celiac disease, I know how overwhelming food allergies are at times. To ensur . . .

Read more

Navigating Mental Health and How to get Help for Your Child

Navigating Mental Health and How to get Help for Your Child

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) characterizes mental disorders as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave or handle emotions. The CDC says the most common ment . . .

Read more

Health & Wellness Guide 2020

Health & Wellness Guide 2020

Make a resolution to stay fit, active and healthy this new year with San Diego Family's 2020 Health and Welllness Guide. Search for pediatricians, dance classes, swim lessons, dentists and more. . . .

Read more

Kids in Motion: 9 ways to keep kids active

Kids in Motion: 9 ways to keep kids active

If you’re concerned your kids will spend the summer lounging on the couch, playing video games and watching YouTube, take charge and get ahead of the situation. Too much idle screen time negativel . . .

Read more

Fun over fitness: Focus on Family Playtime

Fun over fitness: Focus on Family Playtime

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Play is brain building, a central part of healthy child development, a key to executive function skills, and a buffer against the negative i . . .

Read more

How to Protect Kids from Anxiety Overload

How to Protect Kids from Anxiety Overload

Anxiety in kids is on the rise, and it doesn’t take too much digging to uncover some of the reasons why. With increased pressure inside and outside of the classroom, children’s performance is me . . .

Read more

Dangerous Trends: What Parents Need to Know about Drugs, Online Challenges and More

Dangerous Trends: What Parents Need to Know about Drugs, Online Challenges and More

Parents are often shocked when they hear some of the dangerous things teens do. Teens are generally quick to experiment with the latest trends, whether it involves eating something for an online “ . . .

Read more

Foods with Immune-Boosting Potential

Foods with Immune-Boosting Potential

Flu season is here, so take precautions — the flu can be more serious than most people think. Did you know that there are foods that can help reduce your chances of getting sick? Dr. Neal Malik of . . .

Read more

Heart Health: Screen Your Teen

Heart Health: Screen Your Teen

San Diego couple turns personal tragedy into triumph by offering free heart screenings to local teens and young adults through the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation. Eric Paredes was entering his . . .

Read more

Family Fun Runs and 5Ks in San Diego County

Family Fun Runs and 5Ks in San Diego County

Walk for Water (Mission Bay/Tecolote Shores North Park) - AprilBring your family and friends to Mission Bay to experience the trek that millions of women and children around the world make every d . . .

Read more

How to Support Kids When a Parent Has Cancer

How to Support Kids When a Parent Has Cancer

Many people know how to help friends or family members who have been diagnosed with cancer or another life-threatening or chronic disease. But when the diagnosed individual is a parent who is increasi . . .

Read more

What To Do When Mom Has the Flu

What To Do When Mom Has the Flu

Winter can be wonderful. Holiday traditions, family gatherings, travel … and germs. Unfortunately it’s also the peak season for colds and the flu, but busy moms can be especially susceptible if . . .

Read more

13 Ways to Comfort a Friend with Cancer

13 Ways to Comfort a Friend with Cancer

When a friend receives a cancer diagnosis, it is normal to worry and wonder how to help. Follow these suggestions to support and bring comfort to your friend as she faces cancer. Sharpen your listen . . .

Read more

Understanding Eating Disorders in Kids

Understanding Eating Disorders in Kids

Fueled by anxiety and depression, bullying, sports, and feelings of inadequacy in an appearance-driven culture, eating disorders continue to rise among young people. Early intervention is key to suc . . .

Read more

Just Say No to Vaping

Just Say No to Vaping

Get to know the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain potentially addictive, dangerous toxins. Would it surprise you to know that they come in kid-friendly flavors like bubble gu . . .

Read more

How Digital Devices Affect Eyes: What you need to know about Computer Vision Syndrome

How Digital Devices Affect Eyes: What you need to know about Computer Vision Syndrome

Does your technology-fixated child ever complain of dry, irritated eyes? What about blurry vision, headaches, light sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, or fatigue? You might look to his electronic . . .

Read more

How to Lower Your Child's BMI

How to Lower Your Child's BMI

If your child’s pediatrician has alerted you that his body mass index (BMI) is too high, there are steps you can take to encourage a healthier lifestyle. Family Fitness
Your child will exempli . . .

Read more

Rejuvenate Yourself

Rejuvenate Yourself

You do it all every day: get the kids to school on time, work, shop, check homework, cook nutritious meals and chauffeur. Caring for everyone else often leaves little time for you—but rejuvenating y . . .

Read more

5 Asthma Superfoods

5 Asthma Superfoods

If you have asthma, keeping an emergency inhaler and other treatments on hand can help quickly relieve symptoms so you can breathe easier. But there is evidence that foods containing certain compoun . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!