As adults it is hard to understand everything that is happening in the world regarding the Coronavirus, but parents have the task of explaining something so unknown to children.
As a parent, we dread having talks with our children when we don’t want to give them the true answers, but with the coronavirus we don’t even have the answers to give.
Given all the discussion about this coronavirus, your children might have heard about it and have questions for you.
Try to strike a balance between answering questions and trying to not promote fear and uncertainty.
Children have elaborate imaginations that may lead them to create unnecessarily catastrophic stories in their minds if parents do not give them the basics of a topic like this, while making sure that they do not give them too much information to create more fear.
So as a parent, what can you do?
Tell your child what they absolutely need to know about the virus and what to do about it.
Learn what your child has already learned about the virus, and clarify anything that they have incorrect, anything that needs to be explained further, or answer any questions they might have.
Some questions children might have:
What is the new coronavirus?
The new coronavirus is a kind of germ that can make people feel sick.
Remember how the flu made (you/your classmate/anyone your child knows) feel? It can be a lot like getting the flu.
Some people feel just a little bit sick, some people get a fever and a cough and sometimes, the cough can make it hard to breathe easily.
How do you catch this coronavirus?
The virus spreads like the flu, or a cold or cough.
If a person who has the coronavirus sneezes or coughs, germs that are inside the body come outside of the body.
That’s because sneezes and coughs can send germs into the air, when the germs go into the air, they can travel for up to six feet–probably further than you are tall.
That’s why it’s important to stand six feet apart from people other than your family, you don’t want to breathe in air with germs.
A healthy person also might get germs on their hands, this might happen by touching someone who is sick, or touching surfaces where germs landed because someone sick sneezed or coughed.
To keep germs on hands from getting inside the body, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer afterward. Try not to touch your mouth, eyes, or inside your nose because those are places where the germs can get inside the body.
Kids and grownups can try their best to stay healthy by practicing healthy behaviors like sneezing and coughing into tissues or your elbow, washing your hands for 20 seconds or as long as the ABC song or Happy Birthday song, and making sure we dont touch our mouth, eyes or nose.
Seeing people wear masks can bring about questions and make some children ask questions about why they do not have one on, or why people are wearing one.
Why are some people wearing masks? Should I wear a mask?
Masks are mostly for people who are sick to wear so that they don’t share germs.
The masks also are for medical staff, like doctors and nurses, to wear so they can help people who have the virus.
Masks are also so adults who are healthy don’t get sick from people who do not know they are sick.
If children want a mask, consider offering to get them one.
Can you die from the new coronavirus?
Most people who have caught the virus have not died. Doctors are working really hard to keep an eye on anyone who is feeling sick.
They want to make sure everyone gets the help they need and to keep the virus from spreading.
There are a few more tips to ensure that children are not feeling anxiety or worried about information they hear about the virus.
Model calmness about the coronavirus, even if you are concerned yourself, it is important to demonstrate calmness when talking about the virus.
Children will look to you to see how afraid they should be.
Try to limit news exposure on the new coronavirus.
Although the news can be helpful by keeping everyone informed, sometimes news stories can use wording that is strong and scary for children.
Try to limit news-viewing to the hours after children go to sleep, or read the news independently so that children do not hear the stories.
It’s natural for children to ask questions, particularly about something that is new to them.
This is a stressful time for everyone, unsettling and unsure, and we have to remember that our children look to us for answers and reassurance, even when we don’t have them.
Remind teens that everyone is working hard to manage the virus.
Stay home, stay safe.