The continuing news about the Coronavirus may affect your child more than you realize. Children are certainly hearing about the situation and may have feelings, questions and opinions that you are not even aware of.
The good news is that there are a few simple things you can say and do to protect your child from unnecessary anxiety.
Below are some ideas the Fred Rogers Center has put together for how to talk to children about the Coronavirus. This same approach can be used whenever you need to discuss other challenging topics with your child.
1. Assure your child that you and other adults in their life are protecting them. Let them know that doctors and nurses are taking care of those who are sick and working to find ways to keep everyone safe.
2. Monitor what your child hears and sees on the news and limit the negative information they consume.
3. Empower your child to be a helper. While your child needs to understand that it’s not their job to stop the virus, they can help by washing their hands, wearing masks in public, and covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze.
4. Be there for your child. Let them know that they can always come to you with any questions. Assure them that their feelings are safe with you.
5. Find out what your child already knows about the Coronavirus and make sure they haven’t been misinformed. Understanding what your child already knows will allow you to meet them where they are in your conversation.
To support your conversation, use credible, age-appropriate resources to educate your child without scaring them. BrainPOP has created a 4-minute Coronavirus Movie that shares the facts in an age-appropriate way.
Last but not least, always be aware of your own behavior, as it has a bigger impact on your child than you may realize. If you feel fearful or look visibly upset, your child will take their cues from you.
2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. As parents and educators, it’s our job to teach our children how to stay calm and deal with any situation in a constructive manner.