There is so much information surrounding Coronavirus that even as an adult it scares me, which is why it is so important to talk to kids about coronavirus but in a way that will not scare the s^%$ out of them. As a parent, I always think it is better that they here age-appropriate information form us rather than hearsay and fear from the playground or fear-mongering from the media.
But how do you know what to say, how much to say and what not to say? I think as a parent we have to trust our instincts and we know our children and just what sort of information they need, however, it is key to discuss with your partner and family just how much information you will give and to ensure it is consistent from everyone.
How to talk to kids about Coronavirus without scaring them
Find Out What Your Child Already Knows.
Start off by asking them about what they know to establish their baseline beliefs such as for tweens and older – “Are people in school talking about coronavirus? What are they saying?” or “Have you heard people talking about a new illness” for younger children.
This is a great way of starting a conversation and making sure that it is accurate and based on the information you feel is appropriate.
Keep it Age Appropriate and Honest
So for younger kids, you may choose to say “there is a nasty germ spreading fast and making some people sick. It is my job as your parent to protect and look after you, but you can help me do this by making sure you wash your hands when I ask you”.
Also, a lot of the messaging uses the term old – it is worth establishing what your child see’s as old. Old to a 7-year-old is a lot younger than it is to a 40-year-old.
Keep it Simple
The BBC has some great advice on keeping it simple and taking control of the information. Minimise the risk and focus on ht they can do to help.
If we are finding this a scary time as an adult, just imagine how a child might feel, especially if they are getting information from hearsay and hearing snippets of conversation.
We don’t want to scare them, so reassure them that we are doing all we can to stop the illness and model the behavior you want to see, wash your hands with them, use tissues, stop handshakes and demonstrate elbow bumps. BBC Newsround has a great resource section showing how to wash your hands and discuss other concerns.
Talk to older children about trusted sources of information
One of the conversations I have had with my teens is what sources of information to trust. They both have access to social media and the internet and there is so much false information out there. Places I have told them that are OK for news include:
We need to educate ourselves on where they are accessing information and I know a lot of teens are getting information via TikTok, which is why I was pleased to hear they had partnered with the World Health Organisation to create trustworthy information on Covid-19.