Talking to your Child about COVID-19 and the Coronavirus
Ahoy, Cresthill Families and Friends!
Captain Cresthill here, with your weekly check-in, and I hope that this week has found you and yours healthy and safe!
This week’s check-in focuses on the important topic of talking to your child about the Coronavirus and COVID-19.
Given the incredibly astute and observant little sponges that children are, I am sure that your child has noticed, in their own way, that the world has gone a bit topsy-turvy lately with the coronavirus and the various rules and regulations that have been put in place regarding it.
As such, this week’s highlight articles both focus on addressing the virus with your child; because giving children age-appropriate, though truthful, information can provide them with more comfort than leaving them in the dark altogether. As with any topics relating to the virus and this pandemic, following the facts and the science is crucially important, and as such, this week’s first highlight article comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and focuses on some tips to remember when speaking with your child. These include: remaining calm and reassuring, avoiding language that can lead to stigma, and teaching children what they can do to reduce the spread of germs (CDC, 2020). In doing this, the CDC recommends sharing with your child that this is a new virus that doctors and scientists are still learning about, that catching coughs and sneezes into their elbows as well as washing their hands often is how they can help, and reminding your child that even if they get sick with coughs/sneezes/other symptoms, that it may not necessarily be COVID-19 (CDC, 2020).
As always when speaking to your child, it is most important to carefully and fully answer any questions they present to you, rather than to focus on giving them extra information that they may or may not be ready to digest. For example, toddlerhood is an inherently self-centered stage of life wherein children learn about the world as it relates to them, and most toddlers are most “passionate” about their own needs and desires—as such, if you have a toddler, the extent of their questions may revolve solely around the ways this has impacted them directly (ie; not seeing friends, or going to school, or going to the park, staying inside, etc)—and you may not need to delve too far into the extent of the impact of this virus, but rather focus on reassuring your child that they, themselves, are safe and cared for and answering their specific questions.
This week’s second highlight article comes from the Child Mind Institute, a resource for topics in children’s mental health, and it is similarly geared toward providing tips for speaking with children regarding the virus, but focuses more on anxiety and the ways that parents can prevent their own anxieties regarding the virus from permeating their child’s life. In this article, Dr. Bubrick, a clinical Psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, breaks down how parents can work to stay calm themselves, to check in with their kids, and to help anxious children (Ehmke, 2020). Dr. Bubrick’s tips include: limiting how much media you yourself consume regarding the virus, in order to keep calm—bearing in mind that children can read and reflect moods—as well as relying on familiar routines for both yourself and your child. Dr. Bubrick also goes on to highlight the importance of modeling, in yourself, what being calm and positive looks like, for your child (Ehmke, 2020).
So, Cresthill families and friends, my advice to you is this: be open to talking to your child about Coronavirus/COVID-19, but follow their lead on how much information they need and what specific questions need answering. As always, remember that we are all in this together, that children are strong and resilient little beings—and that what they most need is something you as a parent are more than equipped to provide: love and understanding.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 11). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved April 28, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html
Ehmke, R. (2020, March 26). Anxiety and Coping With the Coronavirus. Retrieved April 28, 2020, from https://childmind.org/article/anxiety-and-coping-with-coronavirus/