How to Talk to Your Kids About Covid-19
We’re in some pretty stressful times right now and our kids are very quick to mirror how we’re acting, as well as naturally have some questions about what they’re hearing on the TV, radio, or just being close to you while talking to someone else.
We’re in control
As with all of your kids’ worries, they need to know that they’re looked after and their parents/guardians/teachers have everything sorted and can take care of them.
Model positive behaviour
Your kids will use you as their first example, so model the behaviour you’d like them to use.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow (yay! hayfever season! – yuck)
- wash your hands often
- avoid touching your face
- eat plenty of fruits and veggies
- if you can’t go out to exercise, watch some YouTube fitness classes and do them together (We’ve been doing this. They’re pretty fun!)
Reduce the amount of TV and radio news
A little information is a good thing, but a lot can lead to anxiety and unnecessary worrying. As parents, it’s our job to be informed and filter the noise to what’s needed.
Take time to listen to their questions
They’re bound to have questions and that’s great. Try to give clear and easy to understand answers.
Watch your tone
Kids hear tone, sometimes more than the words you’re saying. Keep calm and try treating the new behaviours and safety measures like preparing for a new season.
A few talking points:
- We have to wash our hands more often now
- Make silly songs while washing your hands
- Cough into your elbow – just like we’d say during a usual cold/flu season
- Even if it’s not for you, it’s for Granny and Grandpa, and our friends’ Grannys and Grandpa’s
- School is going to close for a while so the germs don’t pass on to our friends, but it’s ok. I’ve got lots of fun things lined up.
If you have access to nature, get outside!
A walk in the fresh air is a wonderful thing. If you’re near a forest, go for a walk, get some exercise and work on your health. Some time in the woods gives an incredible feeling of balance and peace.
Having said this, avoid crowded parks or play areas. Those things usually aren’t cleaned well.
Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw shares her useful advice on talking to kids about the coronavirus:
Some activities for staying in the house:
- Make Easter cards
- Order some seeds online and start your spring garden (flowers, strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins)
- Check out some online learning resources to continue their education but in a fun way
From the CDC website:
Facts about COVID-19 for discussions with children
Try to keep information simple and remind them that health and school officials are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.
What is COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is the short name for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it.
- Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be ok, especially kids, but some people might get pretty sick.
- Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.
What can I do so that I don’t get COVID-19?
- You can practice healthy habits at home, school, and play to help protect against the spread of COVID-19:
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it in the trash right away.
- Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose, and eyes. This will help keep germs out of your body.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Follow these five steps—wet, lather (make bubbles), scrub (rub together), rinse and dry. You can sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
- If you don’t have soap and water, have an adult help you use a special hand cleaner.
- Keep things clean. Older children can help adults at home and school clean the things we touch the most, like desks, doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. (Note for adults: you can find more information about cleaning and disinfecting on CDC’s website.)
- If you feel sick, stay home. Just like you don’t want to get other people’s germs in your body, other people don’t want to get your germs either.
What happens if you get sick with COVID-19?
- COVID-19 can look different in different people. For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems. From what doctors have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While a lot of adults get sick, most adults get better.
- If you do get sick, it doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. People can get sick from all kinds of germs. What’s important to remember is that if you do get sick, the adults at home and school will help get you any help that you need.
- If you suspect your child may have COVID-19, call the healthcare facility to let them know before you bring your child in to see them.