During this pandemic, you have probably wondered what is appropriate to tell your children. How do we explain this to our children? As parents, we worry about saying too much or saying something that may be scary. We definitely don’t want that. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone! Families all over the world are with you on this one.
Some advice that I would give you during this outbreak to help cope with hard conversations about Covid-19 is to keep your children feeling safe. Children are particularly susceptible to adults’ vibes. Keep your words and tone calm. Reassure children that this is something that the doctors are going to fix and that they, and their caregivers, are going to be just fine.
Children need simple, honest answers. Avoid hushing your talk when they walk into a room, and never lie. You might say, “The coronavirus is a type of germ. These germs are very, very tiny, and when they get inside your body, they can make you sick. The germs get in your body through your nose, mouth, or eyes. When someone coughs and touches a doorknob, and then you touch the doorknob, those germs might get into your body. It’s helpful to wash our hands a lot and try to stay away from big crowds.”
Too much information can create anxiety. Children do better when they have control of the conversation; it’s one of their emotional developmental needs. And this is a great time to give it to them. Children can help their families and loved ones stay safe and healthy if they frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” twice. Remind them to cough or sneeze into their elbows or a tissue. You might tell them that hand-washing is like washing away the coronavirus, and hand-sanitizer is a good stand-in when they can’t find soap and water.
Stay well and follow the CDC guidelines and do your part to keep the spread of coronavirus from happening.