8 Tips for Talking to Children about Coronavirus
FROM CARRIE KUBACKI, HEALTH & WELLNESS EDUCATOR, UW-MADISON EXTENSION
Yes, it is okay to talk to children about coronavirus, but how can we do so without creating more fear and worry? The following eight tips are a few ways to approach discussing the virus in a helpful and non-threatening manner.
- Prepare yourself with factual information about coronavirus so that you can discuss the virus and answer questions. Use credible sources like the Centers for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/).
- Be developmentally appropriate. Be clear and honest in your answers; however, do not share more information than what a child can understand or emotionally manage.
- Look for cues from your child. Determine whether the information you are giving is confusing or emotionally overwhelming. Notice if they appear to have more questions. Give time for your child to talk.
- Manage your own anxiety and worry. The goal of talking to your child is to share information and be reassuring. Take time to calm yourself as needed before discussing coronavirus.
- Focus on the control that you and your child have. Note the safety precautions in place at home, in the community and in the country. Be sure to remind your child that hand washing is one of the best ways to stay safe. Help them to develop proper handwashing strategies.
- Reassure your child. Many children are egocentric—meaning they think everything is likely to happen to them. Take steps to help them understand the facts about coronavirus and how it impacts children.
- Follow a routine. You can help your child with stability and predictability by maintaining a daily schedule and structure. Regular mealtimes and bedtimes are necessary for their health and well-being.
- Let children know you are there for them. While you cannot stop the emotional impact of coronavirus on children, you can assure them that you are there to listen to them, answer their questions and provide safety and support.
For more information about discussing coronavirus with children, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/.