PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—Right now, every American’s life and routine has been disrupted. Schools are closed, families are sequestered, people are worried about the health of loved ones, and of course, there’s the fear of the unknown. So, what’s the best way to talk to your kids about coronavirus, without increasing their anxiety?
The images are everywhere, so it’s natural that our kids hear more than we think they do about coronavirus.
Abigail Schlesinger, MD, is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. She says before talking about coronavirus with your kids take a minute to be calm and make sure you have correct facts.
Dr. Schlesinger detailed, “Although it’s important to show kids that you have emotions, you might be anxious about something. What you don’t want to do is inadvertently dump your emotions on them.”
Dr. Schlesinger said start by asking kids if they have any questions. Be honest but keep it simple. For example, if young children ask why they can’t play with friends, tell them, “We’re taking a break from playing with others so everyone can stay healthy.” If they ask why someone is wearing a mask, say, “Sometimes people cover their faces when they don’t feel well.” And if an adult needs to be separated from them, try to avoid words like sickness and quarantine. Say, “Mommy needs to be away for a little while, but she’ll be back soon.”
Dr. Schlesinger said even in this time of change, it’s important that some routines are maintained.
“So basic routines, like when kids eat dinner, when kids go to bed, those can be retained, even in times of quarantine and social distancing,” explained Dr. Schlesinger.
Finally, empower kids by focusing on the things they can control, like hygiene and hand washing.
While children are at lower risk of being infected, they can still be carriers without symptoms. Child Trends, a research organization, offers information for supporting children’s emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, go to https://www.childtrends.org/publications/resources-for-supporting-childrens-emotional-well-being-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Ken Ashe, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.