If there’s one thing I realized among the chaos that is the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s that we adults are good at keeping kids in the dark sometimes. I’m included in that statement. I tried, like many, to believe that this wasn’t going to turn into what it is now. Unfortunately, this pandemic turned into a big thing so fast that I wasn’t prepared. One day, everything was normal. The next, my kids’ schools were closing for three weeks.
That led to some conversations with my kids to let them know what was going on. That’s when I realized I didn’t let them know early enough. As a teen, my daughter was somewhat aware. My son, only a second-grader, had no idea until the day the district announced the closure. He heard at school that a lot of yucky germs were floating around, so they had to make sure everything was cleaned well and everyone stayed healthy. He came home and told me, “People are in danger.” My son seemed scared. That’s when I realized I didn’t do my part early enough.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in making everything seem okay for our little ones that we forget to keep them in the loop. I’ve since sat down with my kids to give them some more details on what’s going on around us and make sure that they knew they could come to me with questions. Below are a few tips to help you talk to your kids about the coronavirus.
How to Talk to Kids About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Knowledge is power, and knowledge brings calmness. I’m a firm believer that talking to your kids about stuff that can be scary makes it not-so-scary. Here’s how you can strike up the conversation and talk to your kids about the coronavirus:
Be honest, but stay calm.
The unknown is confusing and can be scary for all of us. But it’s super important for adults, especially, to stay calm. Your kids look to you for support. Their feelings often mirror yours, so if they see you freaking out, they probably will too. It’s equally important, though, to be honest. Give the details, but do it calmly, not frantically. There’s no need to talk about how other people might be handling the outbreak (hoarding paper products, getting into fights at stores, etc.). Just give the need-to-know information and show them that they don’t need to panic.Talking to your kids about stuff that can be scary makes it not-so-scary. Here's how you can strike up the conversation and talk to your kids about the #coronavirus. Click To Tweet
Answer their questions.
Your kids will probably have questions about what you share with them. That’s a good thing; it shows that they’re interested in what’s going on and they trust that you’ll give them the answers. Personally, there were a couple of questions my daughter asked that I didn’t know. So, we looked them up together, being sure to only check trustworthy sources. My son has a few questions from time to time and I’m quick to answer them as best as I can to put his anxieties to rest.
Let them know how to stay healthy.
This is a big one when you talk to your kids about the coronavirus. Above all else, they need to know what to do to keep themselves and others around them healthy. If things around are closing, remind them that it’s for their own safety. Go over proper hand washing and other ways to stop the spread of germs, like:
- Keeping a few feet away from others
- Sneezing and coughing into the crease of their arm or a tissue
- Showering routinely
- Avoiding touching their face, eyes, or mouth
This is also a good time to remind them of the importance of completing household chores. Their chores contribute to the family and home to keep things clean and healthy for everyone.
Remind them that it’s a time of need.
Something that I think is necessary to mention in your discussions is that everyone needs a little help right now. Some words of kindness or a helpful gesture can go a long way. If you’re able to help others – whether it’s donating some canned goods to a family with parents out of work or driving the elderly to a store to get their groceries – do it. Show your kids how easy it can be to lend a helping hand and talk about why it’s important right now. The more we come together, the easier it will be to get through this challenging time.Show your kids how easy it can be to lend a helping hand and talk about why it's important right now. The more we come together, the easier it will be to get through this challenging time. #coronavirus #COVID19 Click To Tweet
Talk to Your Kids About the Coronavirus
As often as you feel you need to talk to your kids about the coronavirus, do it. Keep the lines of communication open and keep them updated with information that’s age-appropriate. In my house, we keep the news off most of the time, and I check in with trusted sources a couple of times a day. Then, I relay new information to my kids. It makes it not so in-your-face, and it gives you the chance to explain things how you see fit. You got this. ♥
As always, I’m here to listen! Drop your thoughts about talking to your kids about the coronavirus (COVID-19) below.
Amy is a mom of two, freelance writer, and blog manager who works with family-focused businesses to improve their content strategies. You can find her published work on Reader’s Digest Online, MSN, Niche, Frugal For Less, and other lifestyle publications.