The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a list of recommendations for talking to children about COVID-19.
It advises parents to stay calm because children “will pick up cues from the conversations.”
It also recommends that parents reassure their children that they are safe while letting them know it’s OK to feel upset. Parents should make themselves available to listen and talk so that children feel comfortable asking questions.
For masks, the CDC recommends cloth face coverings for children over the age of 2.
The CDC also suggest that parents pay attention to what their kids see and hear on television or online. The center says that “too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.”
Dr. John Tiffany, of Tiffany Pediatrics in Aiken, said that what he says to children depends on their developmental age group.
For toddlers and the younger age group, Tiffany said he wants to make sure they “understand 6-foot distancing and wearing a mask.”
With teens, Tiffany said he is very upfront with them.
“You don’t want to scare kids, but they have to understand,” he said.
Tiffany also emphasized the use of hand washing and hand sanitizer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a list of precautions that parents should teach their children to do in order to best keep them safe.
The academy recommends that parents teach their kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue and throw it away after one use, or to cough and sneeze into their arms and elbows, not their hands.
It also advises parents to tell kids to avoid touching their faces as much as possible. It recommends parents to remind their kids of the control that they have over their own bodies and that it helps to frequently wash their hands, use proper sneezing and coughing techniques, and get enough sleep.
The Child Mind Institute, an independent nonprofit that works with children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders, advises parents to not avoid questions that they can’t answer.
“Teaching children how to tolerate uncertainty is key to reducing anxiety and helping them build resilience,” according to the institute’s report.
The institute also recommends that parents keep talking to their children.
“Let them know that the lines of communication are going to be open,” said Dr. Janine Domingues, a child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “You can say, ‘Even though we don’t have the answers to everything right now, know that once we know more, mom or dad will let you know, too.’”