News of the Coronavirus is everywhere, and with schools closed, your child probably has questions and concerns about the virus. This can be challenging, because you have just as many questions and concerns. Presenting honest information about a dangerous virus in a way that makes your child feel safe and protected—particularly when YOU may not even feel safe and protected—is a real challenge.
Here are some tips on how to speak with your children and help them manage their fears about Coronavirus.
Children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up on cues from conversations you have with them, and with others. If you’re showing panic or anxiety, so will they. Be sure to validate their concerns and show them that, yes, you understand they are scared…and that being a little nervous is okay.
When you do speak with them about Coronavirus, speak calmly and reassure them that people are working very hard to make sure everyone stays safe.
When is the right time to talk?
Get ahead of the conversation, as ignoring it can cause more harm than good. We don’t always know where children get their information, and they may misinterpret what they see and believe everything they hear. Be proactive and start a conversation before your child has the opportunity to come to inaccurate conclusions.
Find out what your child has already heard about Coronavirus. Ask questions about what they think about it, or how it makes them feel. By asking questions you’ll gain a better understanding of where your child is coming from, and you’ll be able to correct any misinformation. This will also provide the opportunity for you to reassure your child about whatever they are most worried about.
Be age appropriate
When speaking with your children, you will want to meet them where they are. You will want to explain Coronavirus to very young children very differently than you would with older children. The information you provide should be clear and truthful, but not overwhelming. Think about what your child absolutely needs to know in order to understand what is going on. This can be a hard balance to strike, as too little information can lead to their little imaginations running wild…but too much information may create panic.
Keeping up on the news is helpful for keeping yourself informed, but sometimes news stories can be too harsh or extreme for children. Consider reducing the amount of screen time that is focused on the Coronavirus. This includes television, internet and radio sources. For parents, stay updated independent of your children. Watch the news after they go to sleep, or wear headphones so that your children do not hear the stories.
Give them control
Empower your children to make good decisions about their health and how they can protect themselves and others. Remind children about good hygiene habits, especially hand washing routines and the need to get plenty of sleep to stay healthy.
As we navigate the uncertainty of the road ahead, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to make yourself available to listen and talk. Be sure to let your children know that they can ask questions and share their feelings. Reciprocate this message by letting them know that you will continue to keep them informed as you learn new information.
If your child or adolescent is struggling to cope with the Coronavirus crisis, the changes it is demanding upon their routine, and their anxiety or depression is unmanageable, consider virtual counseling appointments – also known as Telehealth – with one of experienced child counselors. Child counseling is one of the therapeutic modalities that Creative Counseling Center specializes in. Wherever your child is on an emotional level, we will meet them right where they are, and help them process the uncertainties of this unprecedented situation.
Request a free virtual consultation by completing the form below, and a member of our team will contact you to listen, understand, and partner you with the perfect counselor for your child’s needs.