How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus
Here are a few tips to help you talk with your kids about the coronavirus:
1. Follow your child’s lead
As a parent, you are in the best position to know what your child needs. You know their age, their temperament, whether they are a worrier — or not so much. Follow their lead in terms of what information you share with them.
Our instinct as parents is often to share lots and lots of information, often without context. But sharing everything we know about COVID-19 is likely overkill. First, you may want to find out what your child already knows.
Try starting the conversation with a question of your own: “Gosh, there’s been a lot in the news about this coronavirus. What have you heard?”
2. Listen carefully to what your child asks
Really pay attention to the questions your child asks. You may hear questions about what the coronavirus is, what’s going to happen, what a quarantine is, etc.
Children are naturally curious, but they need context. You don’t have to answer questions that your child hasn’t asked yet. Instead, focus on responding to the specific questions they ask, when they ask them. And, as always, remember that children will ask the same questions over and over again. That doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention to you. The cycle of contemplation and repetition is the way children (and adults too!) learn.
3. Be honest and accurate
If you don’t know the answer, which is the case with a lot of what’s going on right now, it’s ok to say so, or say, “You know, I’m not sure if anyone knows the answer at the moment. But here’s what I do know.”
What if my child hasn’t asked about the coronavirus yet? Should I bring it up?
Yes, depending on their age. If your child is in preschool or older, it’s likely they’ve already heard something about COVID-19, even if they aren’t coming to you with questions or concerns. Don’t be afraid to bring it up. Start by getting a baseline on what they know. Ask what they’ve heard. Then, listen carefully to their questions.
We know communicating about such a complex issue can feel daunting. Here are a few additional resources to help you talk with your kids about coronavirus:
• National Association of School Psychologists: How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus
• Childmind: Talking to Kids About Coronavirus
• NPR: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus
• BrainPop Video about Coronavirus