As public conversations about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) becomes more apparent, some children may be raising questions. Parents, family members, school staff and other trusted adults play an important role in helping children make sense of the disease and help them to stay calm.
We have summarized some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to talk with children about the coronavirus.
Remain calm and reassuring.
Children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up on cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
Make time to listen and talk.
Reassure them that if they have any questions they can come to you and ask.
Avoid language the might blame others and lead to a stigma.
The virus can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
Pay attention to what children see or hear through media.
Help reduce the amount of screen time focused on the disease in the media. Too much coverage can lead to a child having anxiety.
Teach children everyday actions to take to prevent the spread of germs.
- Remind them to stay away from people coughing or sneezing.
- Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it into the trash.
- Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose, and eyes. This will help keep germs out of your body.
- Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Follow these five steps—wet, lather (make bubbles), scrub (rub together), rinse and dry. You can sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
- Teach them how to use hand sanitizer. (Should contain at least 60% alcohol)
Facts for discussions with children:
- COVID-19 is the short name for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it.
- Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be ok, especially kids, but some people might get pretty sick.
- Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.
For more information on the coronavirus visit https://www.coronavirus.gov