How to talk to your kids about coronavirus

From KidsOnline’s Guest Contributor, Ms Angela McCloskey, Curriculum and Design Coordinator cum Head STEAM Instructional Training Coach, Jello Academy

This is a stressful and trying time for both adults and children.  As coronavirus worries increase, so does the anxiety in both parents and children. Each day we have seen changes to our daily lives. With kids staying at home due to prolonged school closure, let’s:

  • Give children information that “they can handle” and are asking about, depending on their age.
  • Do not close the door and shut the window on the situation.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss the coronavirus.
  • Look at the conversation as an opportunity to convey the facts and set the emotional tone. “You take on the news and you’re the person who filters the news to your kid,”
  • Take your cues from the child. Invite your child to tell you anything they may have heard about the coronavirus, and how they feel. Give them ample opportunity to ask questions.
  • Deal with your own anxiety. “When you’re feeling most anxious or panicked, that isn’t the time to talk to your kids about what’s happening with the coronavirus,”
  • Be reassuring. The virus has not been spreading among younger people and that 80 percent of cases involved milder symptoms. We don’t want to pass the germs around so we are going to stay home for a little while. Stay positive!!!
  • Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. An important way to reassure kids is to emphasize the safety precautions that you are taking. The CDC recommends thoroughly washing your hands as the primary means of staying healthy. So remind kids that they are taking care of themselves by washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the length of two “Happy Birthday” songs).
  • Stick to routine. We don’t like uncertainty, so staying rooted in routines and predictability is going to be helpful right now. For example, wake up in the morning, eat lunch, and go to bed the same as the child would if he/she was in school.
  • Stick to scientific facts. Discuss how media exposure impacts public perception.
  • Vocabulary Matters! Keep DEATH out!

For kids 5 or 6 years old, be very clear with them that it’s just a type of bug, tell them to remember back to a time when they were sick and got better after a few days. Parents should reassure them that they will be OK and emphasize how important it is to wash their hands often.

Find a book that you can read to your child about healthy hygiene habits or washing his/her hands, such as Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Things You Can Do that are Good for You!” (in Vietnam, you can order Dr Seuss’ books here: Monty Book Club. Or a song – like The Corona Song, to curb some humor into this stressful time (note: you can turn on “CC” on the clip for subtitles in many languages including English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, to name a few).

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