While the reported rates of COVID-19 in children remain low and mild, it is important to keep your family informed to the best of your abilities.
Research and Stay Calm
Kids are very sensitive to anxiety and stress from parents
, and it is important that you feel fully prepared to talk about COVID-19 in a constructive way. The way in which you talk about COVID-19 with your children will shape the way that they perceive the situation.
As a co-parent, having a conversation with the other parent will be important. Do your best to present a united front and share the same information when possible. Having the conversation over the phone
or with everyone in the same room (if possible) may be a good solution.
Read the guidelines and facts provided by industry-experts, notably the CDC
and the WHO.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has also created some guidelines for parents
Let them start
Ask your child what information they have heard about COVID-19 and how they are feeling. This will help you determine how in-depth your conversation needs to be and explore where they are getting their information. Since kids are sponges in the conversations that we have with friends, family, and the media that surrounds them in daily life, they may know more than you expected.
Allowing them to start the conversation also means giving them the chance to ask as many questions as they want.
Protecting Yourself and Others
Per the CDC
, parents can encourage their children to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by washing their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds each time, cleaning hard surfaces, avoiding people who are sick, and coughing/sneezing into an elbow.
As many schools close, social distancing for kids will also mean stopping playdates with friends. Some children may feel hurt or sad about these facts. Focus on the ways that you can build positive routines and create memories as a family during this time. Remind your children that these steps are part of their responsibility to keeping their communities healthy.
This is also a great time to remind your children about all the things that they can do to stay healthy
. This can include eating healthy food, getting lots of sleep, and doing a form of exercise or movement each day.
WHO has a list of myth busters
that can be a great place to start with your kids.
This PBS article
also has a list of videos and episodes that share the importance of handwashing and preventing the spread of germs. BrainPOP
also created some videos and quizzes to interactively teach kids about the virus.
It’s Not Their Responsibility
While children can do their best to remember to wash their hands as often as possible, it is important to remind them that managing COVID-19 is not something that they need to worry about. Reassure your child that they are safe and that there are lots of smart grown-ups in the world who are working very hard. From the doctors and scientists working hard to help sick people, to the people in their local community who are helping those who need it.
Keep the Conversation Going
As more information becomes available your conversations will evolve with your children. Keep them updated on when they may go back to school and continue to make yourself available
to answer their questions.