How to Talk to Children About the Coronavirus
The constant news cycle about the current epidemic of novel coronavirus COVID-19 is enough to cause uncertainty and anxiety in adults, and those same feelings filter down to children of all ages.
Talking about a situation as complex and potentially frightening as the COVID-19 and its repercussions with children can be difficult, but there are some steps you can take to help children cope with the stress of this outbreak
Recognizing Signs of Stress in Children
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), common signs of stress in children include:
- Changes in behavior
- Mood swings
- Being unusually clingy
- New or recurring fears, such as a fear of the dark or the fear of being alone
- A change in sleep patterns
- Decreased appetite
- Upset stomach or vague stomach pain
All children are different of course, but if you feel that your child is suffering from stress and worry during this challenging time, there are some steps you can take to help them with that.
Help Them to Share Their Feelings
Children often have trouble expressing emotions about complex situations. Engaging them in creative activity, such as painting or drawing, can often help them to frame what they are feeling.
If the child in question asks specific questions, such as the state of your health, how it will affect their school or their friends, or if it might affect them, answer them as honestly as possible, even if that means admitting you don’t know.
However, there isn’t much reason to bring up a subject that the child doesn’t show any interest in. This can dilute the effect of your answering their questions by proving them with too much information.
Listen to your children, speak kindly, and try to provide information about what could happen in a reassuring manner.
Let the Know How They Can Help
Purpose and a feeling of being able to contribute can often help to ease anxiety in both children and adults, so involve your child in things like proper handwashing, social-distancing, and disinfecting your home.
Help Them Socialize
Use the same methods that you use to connect with people over the internet to help your child socialize with their friends through video calling. Keeping them to their normal routine can also help to reduce anxiety by making the situation seem more normal.
Let Them Know They Can Come to You
Emphasize to your child that they can come to you at any point if they have further questions and that you will take those questions seriously and answer them to the best of your ability.
At the end of the day, no one knows your child as you do, so use your discretion when it comes to what information you give your child and trust in your judgment.
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Dr. Stephanie Kenny,
Dean of Students