With the closures of schools and many companies are asking us to work from home, parents are now finding themselves spending more time with their children at home. During these uncertain times, many parents will probably face the task of having to answer questions from their children, especially young children, about what Coronavirus is.
Children will ask questions and they want answers from their parents and at the same time, you want to make sure they hear it from you.
The following are tips on how to talk to your children about COVID-19 according to KidsHealth.org.
Find out what your child already knows by asking questions geared to your child’s age level. Asking questions geared to your child’s ability to comprehend will help engage the conversation. For older children, questions like, "Are people in school talking about coronavirus? What are they saying?" For younger children, ask if they have heard adults talking about coronavirus. Kids Health says this is a chance to learn how much your child knows.
Offer comfort and honesty. According to Kids Health, your focus should be on helping your child feel safe but at the same time, be honest to your child. Only answer questions your child is interested in and don’t offer more details that may throw them off. If your child asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, say so. This is a chance to find out together by visiting the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website to view all the latest details without exposing your children to all the scary headlines about deaths and panic.
Always speak calmly and reassuringly during these conversations. Children pick up on their parent’s emotions and can feel when you are worried or scared. It is important to use a calm voice and not to seem upset.
Allow children to share their fears openly and know when they need guidance. It is important that they know they can come to you to talk about their fears in a safe environment.
As these conversations come up, Kids Health recommends that parents should help their kids feel in control by giving them specific things they can do, such as teaching your kids about the importance of getting plenty of sleep and washing their hands habitually to help them stay strong and healthy. Also, lead by example. Let your children see you practicing what you preach.
Talk about everything that is happening to keep people safe and healthy. Continue the conversation as these new developments come up, reassuring your children that our medical professionals and scientists are working hard to develop a vaccine.
Encourage different forms of outside communication with friends and family. We live in an age where social media and video conferencing technology is readily available. Encourage the use of Skype or FaceTime as a way to check on friends that your children may be concerned about.
Let your children know that it’s normal to feel stressed out at times. According to Kids Health, recognizing these feelings and emotions and reassuring your children that stressful times pass and life gets back to normal can help children build resilience.
Finally, keep the conversation going by periodically checking in with your child and talking about current events often. This keeps them engaged and can be used as a teaching moment to help your child understand their bodies and how their immune system works.