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Talking To Your Kids About The Coronavirus

Mother taking her child's temperature

If your child is of an age where they can understand the current health scare of coronavirus COVID-19, then you may find this article helpful? There really is no escaping it. If it’s not on the front page of every newspaper, then you will hear it on every 24hr news cycle.

So how do we reassure our children that everything is going to be OK without them getting too worried?

Here are a few pointers that should help:

Don’t Be Afraid To Discuss Coronavirus COVID-19

As I have already mentioned. Most children have already heard about the virus from you and at school (washing hands repeatedly etc). They may have even seen people walking around with face masks which is a little unusual unless you live in China or Japan. Because of this, there is just no way to avoid it. For that reason, we need to approach the problem head-on and discuss it with them. If you avoid it, you will likely worry them more.

The idea is to ensure your child is as well informed as possible. The explanation you give them will carry much more weight and authority than any teacher or friend.

Be Developmentally Appropriate

If your child hasn’t asked a series of questions yet. There’s no need to overwhelm them with a barrage of information on the virus. 

The best thing you can do is answer any questions they have honestly and clearly. It’s OK if you don’t know the answer to everything. It’s a fairly new phenomenon and no one knows everything about it. The key is being available to your child when they ask.

Take Your Cues From Your Child

I’m assuming that you have regular conversations with your child. Invite them to tell you anything and ask them how they feel about it. The key is to give them ample opportunity to ask as long as you are prepared to answer.

The worst-case scenario is for a parent not to be available and their child taking advice and cues from their friends instead. This will likely end with them having frightening fantasies that have probably been blown out of all proportion.

Help Kids Feel in Control

The idea is to empower your children so that they also feel in control. This is normally a govern, but by ensuring they get enough sleep, eat healthily and continue to wash and dry their hands properly gives them the confidence that they are also doing everything they can to stay healthy. 

This also means germs or illnesses are less likely to contracted and reduces the possibility of it being transferred to friends or family.

If they have heard recent news stories or updates. Try to put it in context for them. Ideally, you will be there with them if the news happens to be on. That way you have the possibility of answering their questions there and then.

Deal With Your Own Anxiety

If you are fairly stressed out and feeling anxious about the situation. Then this wouldn’t be the best time to have a conversation with your child about the virus. 

Your best bet is to take a bit of time out for yourself so you can get both your thoughts and feelings together before trying to answer any of your child’s questions. That way you won’t project your own fears and anxiety onto them.

Of course, this is easier said than done and if you are not currently up to date with what is going on, it can leave you emotionally compromised and in no position to give any reasonable explanations to them.

Be Reassuring

As a parent or grandparent. The most important thing we can be is reassuring. So many children are egocentric and without a reassuring hand on the shoulder and a proper explanation, a lot of children will believe that they are likely to contract the virus. 

To be clear, the chances of someone in the UK contracting the virus is still very small. In fact, it seems to be more dangerous to the elderly as their defense systems find it hard to fight against it. Young children are less likely to contract it or be at any risk from it.

Focus On What You’re Doing To Stay Safe

As well as reassurance, you can also show your children the sort of safety precautions you are taking to keep the family safe. Children feel empowered when they know that their parents are doing everything they can to keep them safe.

We all know that the virus is transmitted via coughing, sneezing and then touching surfaces. That’s why the CDC recommends that we thoroughly wash and dry our hands so that we can all stay healthy.

By reminding our children the importance of washing their hands after they have been outside, been to the toilet, blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing resources their trust that you are telling them to do this for their own good.

Stick To Routine

By doing things out of the norm generally leads to uncertainty. So, by continuing to do things the way you have always done helps keep children used to their routine. For example, the things you do before and after mealtimes should remain the same and of course bedtimes. 

By changing them or switching them up leads to uncertainty and your children won’t know if they are coming or going.

Maintaining a routine will keep your children healthy and happy and everyone will be on the same page. The only difference to the routine is the extra washing of hands and wiping down surfaces around the home.

Conclusion

Of course, these points aren’t exhaustive and I’m sure you are used to answering these types of questions from your children on a daily basis anyway? However, there aren’t many of us that have experienced this sort of outbreak in our lifetimes and the way we engage and interact with our children needs to be handled with care and a little caution.

At the moment the risks are relatively low, but they could change from week to week. None of us know just how bad this will get. That’s why keeping the communication flowing both ways is so important.

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