With stories about the new coronavirus outbreak flooding the media, it's easy to get scared. And if you're scared, your kids might be, too -- but they don't have to be.
Honesty and directness are key when talking to your child about this new virus.
To relieve your child's fears about the virus, here are some helpful tips:
Explain the situation in ways he or she will understand.
Very young children who don't have the basic ability to understand how germs are spread are just going to be scared by this information. Adjust your explanations to their level of development.
Explain that they won't automatically contract the virus, and there are ways to stay healthy.
Give your child a sense of control.
Teach your child general hygiene like hand washing and sneezing into their elbows. "It gives them a feeling of 'there's this thing out there that's scary but there are things I can do to prevent getting it,'" Bales said.
Emphasize that it's important to stay home if you're sick.
Remember the consequences of sending your child to school when they're sick. Teach children the importance of limiting contact with people when they are ill to avoid spreading disease.
Monitor your child's social media.
Not all information your child receives will be accurate and reliable. Keep an eye on what they're watching or reading, so you can put information in context.
When talking to children about coronavirus:
- Remain calm and reassuring
- Be available to talk and listen
- Avoid language that may blame others and lead to stigma
- Be mindful of what children see or hear on TV or online
- Provide information that is honest and accurate
- Teach children what they can do to reduce the spread of germs
Click here for more information to help with discussions with children from the CDC.
COVID-19 in Children:
There is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. While information is currently limited, there is evidence that children without chronic health problems have a mild and limited course of the disease.
There is an ongoing investigation to determine more about this outbreak in children. Updates from the CDC specifically for pregnant women and children can be found here.
Everyone can do their part to help prevent the spread of infection!
Remaining calm and encouraging everyone to do their part to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu and the emerging public health threat of COVID-19 are the most important steps we can take as a community at this time.
• It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine
• Practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use antibacterial hand sanitizer.
Click here for handwashing “how to” and why it’s important.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue.
• Cleanse and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, including your cell phone!
• Those who are ill are encouraged to stay home from work, school, and other populated settings.
Virtual Visits for Kids:
If your family has traveled recently and you are concerned that your child is experiencing symptoms related to those of COVID-19, you can use Children’s Hospital’s virtual care service to get advice from our team of pediatric providers and take our safety screening over the phone.