How to talk to kids about coronavirus outbreak?
While adults are worried about coronavirus breakout and how to protect family, kids also sense the tension in community, home and school about coronavirus. In many countries, towns and cities school exams are postponed or cancelled. Kids activities are stopped or cancelled, and kids are restricted to one place. Now it is totally parents’ job to keep kids engaged in activities as well as help them to understand the situation. Before kids start imagining the worst, help children to understand and explain about coronavirus and what precautions they must undertake.
In many households’ parents are facing questions from children. Children will pick up bits and pieces of information and probably misinformation too from friends, internet and social media. Their mind might start imagining the worst that can lead to lot of fear. It is important for parents to step in and be supportive as a reliable person and help kids to come out from fear and confusion about COVID-19.
How can you help kids to come out from Coronavirus fear and help them to understand the breakout situation?
Before explaining to kids, learn about coronavirus and come out from your own feelings of fear and anxiety says experts. Kids always look up to parents and teachers for reassurance and information. If you are calm and reassuring, kids will face their fear as they look up to you. Before explaining about the panic, you must know that kids’ brain can imagine lot of things, but they don’t have the same power and access to information the way you do. But they sense the worry and tension and it could lead to their worst imagination.
- Keep your explanation age appropriate- choice of words and how much explanation child needs depends on child’s age.
- Bring up the topic, ask what they know about coronavirus
- Do not make it a scary topic to discuss but tell them it is important to talk about it as it is an outbreak.
- While having dinner or spending family time together, encourage them to talk about coronavirus.
- While they explain, listen and ask them questions. If they don’t know the answer help them with proper information.
- Encourage them to express their emotions/feelings – ask them how do they feel about disease outbreak
- Explain in simple terms – talk about flu season and COVID19
- If your child is too young to understand you may have to think what you can explain. Experts say that kids under age 6 does need much detailed explanation like the global threat, virus name or detailed symptoms. They will not be able to process the details. Talk about simple illness and build story on coronavirus. Tell them why hand washing is important and how germs can get into their tummy.
- If your kid knows about the virus and would like to understand more then, you can explain in simple words about virus, disease, hygiene and how to be safe. Turn off the TV if there are any disturbing images related to virus outbreak.
- For young adults, school going kids above age 12, offer information about outbreak and ways to prevent the spread. Do not talk about death numbers instead tell them how to be safe and remind them to take precautions. Limit their social media exposure to scary news that is responsible for anxiety. Help them to feel secure.
- Ask child about importance of hand washing, hand sanitizer, hand soap, covering cough and sneezing, staying away from people in public places – if they don’t know the answer explain them why these actions are important.
No kids want to be sick. They know sickness means no play and not meeting friends. Often if you talk about the outbreak, they will sense the importance of keeping good hygiene practice and preventing the disease.
Image credit: Image by Manuel Darío Fuentes Hernández from Pixabay (Free for commercial use)
Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: March 11, 2020
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