Talking to children about COVID19

It is very important to share age - appropriate information. Very young children don't have much of a concept of coronavirus and older children might be plagues with health related worries 

With young children:  You don’t need technical words like ‘coronavirus’ or even ‘virus’. Normalise it by using an example they already understand, something like, ‘You know how in winter, people get coughs, colds and a runny nose more often? Well, this is a bit like that. So we need to be careful by washing our hands and wearing a mask. 

With teenagers: They probably understand what is going on. As parents, we can acknowledge that the situation is complex and every person is affected differently. Ask the teenager - Can they identify how they are feeling and how it is affecting them to not see their friends? 

1. Make time to talk about COVID-19, physical distancing and self-isolation

  • Start the conversation. Every child no matter how young understands that something is going on. If parents don't talk to them, they grow up guessing, anxious and confused. 

  • Find the right time to have this conversation - at the dinner table, at bath time or at bed time.
     

2. Use a calm and reassuring tone

  • This helps children feel calm and secure. Acknowledge that this is a difficult time for everyone but you are here to hear about their feelings 

3. . Explain physical distancing and self-isolation in a way your child understands

  • Talk about why we need to stay physically apart - why grandma can't visit - because this virus spreads in the air. So it is better to stay away from people other than people we live with. 

  • We don't know how long it will be - but it won't be always like this. We will meet cousins and friends again. But right now we need to keep ourselves and them safe. 

4. Let them ask questions 

  • Ask your child how they’re feeling. Let your child know that their feelings are OK. 

  • For example: ‘I know you’re sad that you can’t visit Grandma at the moment. I am too. So why don’t we video chat with her?’

  • Encourage questions. Ask if there’s anything else they’d like to know. This provides a space to address specific worries.