It can be hard for kids to understand why they can't play with their friends, why birthday parties are cancelled, and now why school is closed. Making sure to keep your kids feeling safe and reassured is very important. Here are some suggestions that have helped me when talking to my 6 year old.
1. Make sure facts are age appropriate and easy to understand
Letting kids know that symptoms are similar to a cold or flu and will eventually pass is important. If they can compare it to something they are familiar with it helps with understanding. Letting them know that most people who get coronavirus just need to stay home and rest for a while and that a few others who need extra care will be helped by doctors and nurses is comprehensible for most ages.
2. Teach kids how we can beat germs
Take the time to show kids proper hand washing techniques that work for most kinds of germs including COVID-19. Show them how to use the right amount of soap and scrub their hands for over 30 seconds. Singing the "Happy Birthday" song twice is about the right amount of time.
Showing your children how to cough in their elbow is a good reminder as well. Be sure to cheer them on when they do it right but if they cough in their hand just explain that they have to wash their hands right after. Also, explaining how germs are passed from one person to the other, reminding kids to avoid touching their faces, and refraining from sharing things like cups/cutlery are habits that allow them to gain some control.
3. Answer any questions and correct misinformation
Lots of kids will have heard things from their peers or on the news that has gotten twisted and can seem more scary or overwhelming than it needs to be. Remembering to not victimize any groups of people or their backgrounds due to COVID-19 is important. Ensuring kids understand that no one should feel shame or be subjected to bullying and that even assumptions can be hurtful are valuable lessons in times of fragility.
4. Encourage social distancing while still remaining connected
With lots of schools closing down it is important to explain to kids that even though most adults and children can beat germs and get better pretty fast if they get sick, it is important to practice social distancing so that illnesses won't spread to grandma and grandpa who are a lot more vulnerable. Taking advantage of technology and video chatting with relatives and friends is one way to see each other while staying safe.
Image source - Hero Images / Getty Images
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