Kids are quite perceptive, so chances are they know a fair bit about coronavirus already - especially with the rules changing all the time. But what can you do? Do you tell children about coronavirus? And if so, how do you explain what's happening without giving them nightmares? Here’s some tips on talking to your children about coronavirus.
Don’t be afraid to have the conversation
Most kids will have heard about COVID-19 by now, whether it’s been gossiped about on the playground or overheard on the evening news. However, it’s better for them to hear the important information from you as you will have the facts at hand and are able to set the emotional tone to a reassuring one, not one of panic set by the media or their friends.
Try not to overshare
Tell them what COVID-19 is and how it is going to change your lives for the foreseeable future, but don’t feel the need to tell them everything. Children can get overwhelmed easily, so just give them the key facts and answer their questions clearly and honestly. It’s okay if you don’t have the answer for some of these questions – its more important for your child to know they can ask you about it.
Avoid discussions when you are feeling anxious
It’s a challenging time for everybody right now, so feeling anxious from time to time is fairly normal. However, it’s not a great idea to talk to your kids about coronavirus when you're feeling worried. Calm yourself down before trying to answer questions or talking to children about coronavirus. You’ll have much better and more reassuring answers once you do!
Teach children how to stay safe
They (hopefully!) know what’s going on by now, so to ease their potentially worried little minds, teach them how to stay safe from the virus. Knowing they have to wash their hands more than usual and keep 2 metres apart from people outside will empower your children and help them feel more in control - especially now they are back at school.
It’s also a good idea to tell kids that if they see people wearing face masks it’s because they are being extra cautious and it doesn’t mean they have to wear one too.
Let children know it’s okay to feel stressed out
Some kids won’t bat an eyelid at what’s happening out there, whereas some will be feeling quite stressed. Tell them it’s normal to feeling this way and try to reassure them as best as you can. Exercise, games and fun activities can help take their minds off it, so make it part of your day to plan some fun-time for your kids.
Tell your kids about coronavirus treatment
Young children in particular may be reassured to know that doctors and nurses working in hospitals are prepared to treat sick people. Older children may also like to know that scientists all over the world have worked had to develop vaccines.
Keep up the routine as much as possible
Routine helps most people, not just kids, especially in these uncertain times. Now, it’s going to be near impossible to keep your full routine going, so just try and keep some parts of the day the same, e.g. structure your mealtimes and bedtimes as best as you can. Always read your child a few chapters of a book before bed? Keep it up – it will help to keep your kids feeling happy and reassured.
Let your children know that you will keep them updated on what’s happening with coronavirus. It’s important not to close up – this may make your child worried. Tell your children that they can ask you questions and you will do your best to answer them. If you don’t have an answer, just tell them you will let them know as soon as you do.
Last updated: 05 January 2021