Talking to your child about COVID-19

In this state of uncertainty, it is important to remember to acknowledge to your children the feelings they may be experiencing within themselves, and those around them. Words like "Disease," "state of emergency," "pandemic," "social distancing," " lack of ventilators," and even Mortality statistics are flooding the news, social media and household conversation. And the lack of an external structure of a school environment, leaves many young people fearful and confused. False information can generate even more anxiety, and clarity will enable some sense of calm in this unprecedented global situation.  

It is also important to remember that your child may sense your own unease. How you speak to them will be extraordinarily important, not just in content but in tone and setting. Your goal must be to help them make sense of what they see and hear and always to ask them first about what they know and what they want to learn. 

Responsibly Inform Them. 

In an environment of continually changing circumstances, misinformation abounds. Ask them what they know and then provide credible, useful information. Correct any misinformation as well.

For young children, this will mean having a plain conversation about the virus using age-appropriate language, and offering them child-friendly resources, such as this video from PBS. For older children and teens – who are likely getting a lot of their information online anyway – offer credible online resources, such as the CDC’s coronavirus webpage.

Provide a sense of control through teamwork

Help children to participate in their own safety and the safety of those they interact with. Review the how and why of washing their hands, not touching their face, and keeping their spaces clean. Explain why it is critical to avoiding close contact with anyone outside of their home. 

Tasks around the home can help them to feel less uncertain about each day. Makes schedules for their " virtual school" as well as their " free periods". Engage them in family activities. be sure they do not spend the entire day online in their room. 

Acknowledge the Uncertainty and Change:

Uncertainty and disruption of routine leads to anxiety. All of our circumstances have changed, and we cannot know yet for how long.  It is important to talk hopefully, while still being realistic about how long these circumstances may exist. Simple daily family activities can set a new routine, and an opportunity to express gratitude together for what you all share by being in one household during this time. 

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