It’s important to keep your children informed about the world around them. With news of the Coronavirus spreading faster each day, children may easily feel confused, worried, and overwhelmed. They may wonder, what’s happening? What is the Coronavirus? How will it affect my family and me?
Don’t leave your children in the dark. Instead, establish and stick to a plan to keep your child up-to-date and aware of the reality of COVID-19 and its effect on both your community and family. Doing so will help ease the anxieties your child may be experiencing as updates on the virus are reported. You will also build a necessary foundation of trust and transparency between you and your child through honesty and communication.
Here are a few ways you can help your child understand and process the Coronavirus and its effects:
Be Strong, Firm, and Unafraid
For many children, the physical and mental effects of a phenomena like contagious disease are completely unprecedented, and they may be for you, as well. It can be easy to absorb misinformation, and few things are more harmful to your child. The first step to speaking with your child about the Coronavirus is to present the facts and correct any misinformation he or she may have learned in the early stages of the virus.
“When we don’t understand something, that leaves us feeling like we don’t know everything we need to know to protect ourselves,” says David Ropeik, a risk communication expert. “That equates to powerlessness, vulnerability.” Remember that in order to truly protect the physical and mental well-being of your children, it’s important to be informed.
Identify and Emphasize Your Child’s Role
Make sure your child understands that he or she can make a big impact by remembering to practice simple healthy habits every day. Remind your child to wash his or her hands thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds (the same amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice!).
Other easy ways children can protect themselves and others are to cough into the elbow instead of the hands; use hand sanitizer after coming into contact with frequently touched objects, such as door knobs and handles; and avoid touching the faces of themselves and others.
Ensure Your Child Feels Safe and Reassured
Being kept in the dark about significant, impactful events can leave a child feeling scared and isolated. In times of crisis, it’s all the more important to foster a home environment of compassion, communication, and safety.
Make sure your child understands the risks. According to a report published last month by the Journal of the American Medical Association, “cases in children have been rare.” Reassure your child that by practicing healthy habits and staying up-to-date with news and updates on the virus, he or she will be safe.