Talking to Children About Coronavirus
Quarantine is becoming more and more widespread in the world, and it is very likely that your children are feeling a little anxious about staying at home for so long. They’ve probably already asked you why they can’t go out and play with their friends or visit their grannies. But how do you explain Coronavirus to your children in a simple way? In this article, we tell you how to do it.
Children may not realize at first why they are at home so much. In fact, at the beginning, staying at home and playing with their toys could be considered something positive by them. However, as the days go by, they would probably feel a little strange about it. In addition to this, it is the worry caused by changes in routine and the uncertainty of not knowing when this situation will end, which causes them a certain amount of anxiety that may be reflected in angry or disruptive behavior.
Therefore, it’s very important to talk to your children about the Coronavirus disease. To do this, try to explain the situation clearly with facts and show them how they should clean themselves to be safe from the virus. Below, you will find some tips for talking to your children about COVID-19:
Don’t wait for your kids to ask the questions
It’s better if you explain to them what’s going on, but stay calm all the time. Besides, try to show them they can trust you. If you see that after explaining the situation, your child doesn’t show much interest, don’t worry. It’s important not to pressure them.
Always be honest
Children have the right to know what is going on, so you must tell them the truth. However, always take into account their age. You can give more details to older children, while a general explanation to the younger ones can be enough. If you don’t have all the answers to their questions, don’t lie to them. Just tell your children you don’t have the answer, but you can figure it out together. Always read information from reliable sources, such as the WHO or UNICEF.
Use age-appropriate vocabulary
In order to explain to your children what is happening, it is important to take into account their age. The Department of Health and Skills express that, on the one hand, very young children need brief, simple information and reassurance that they are safe and that the people they care about are safe. On the other hand, older children may need help to separate reality from rumour and fantasy. Either provide them to where they can find accurate, and factual information about the current status of Coronavirus or direct them to reliable sources of information. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control. For further information, click here.
Learning to protect yourself can be fun
Teach your children that proper hygiene can be a great adventure! On the Internet, there are many videos with songs or dances to help your children learn how to wash their hands properly. Don’t forget that you should also teach them to cover their mouth with their elbow when sneezing or coughing, to keep a proper distance from people, and to let you know if they have a headache or a sore throat.
Take advantage of the situation to keep your children learning
One of the positive aspects about this pandemic is that your children can learn a lot about health. Keep the conversation open to talk about other topics, such as how the human body works, how the immune system fights diseases, etc. But always remember to choose a vocabulary that is appropriate for their age.
Words you can use to talk to young children about Coronavirus
It is true that explaining COVID-19 to children can be a difficult task. That’s why the Red Cross provides some ideas you can put into your own words to suit the age and stage of your child. These are:
- COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new germ or bug.
- Germs are tiny organisms that live in our environment and can make us sick if they get in our bodies.
- You cannot see germs with your eyes (only under a microscope). They are a bit like chilli. You cannot see chilli on your hands but if you lick your fingers or touch your eyes you will know it is there!
- The germ that causes COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person and infects the breathing system: our nose, throat and lungs.
- It is passed from person to person through tiny droplets when people cough or sneeze.
- These droplets can be breathed in by others – which is why we should try not to get too close to others, and cover our sneezes and coughs with our arm or a tissue. Then wash our hands.
- The droplets might land on surfaces, like phones, door handles, tables and hands. If we shake someone’s hand or touch these things and then touch our eyes, mouth or nose, the germ can get inside us.
- We need to try not to touch our face, avoid shaking hands and wash our hands often, especially before eating (when we put our fingers to our mouth).
- Most kids won’t get very sick if they get COVID-19. If they do it will be a bit like getting a cold.
- The disease is more serious in old people and those that have other illnesses already.
- We all need to do what we can to stop the germ from spreading to keep it away from old and sick people.
Drawings of hope
In many Latin American countries, it is very common for children to draw rainbows with the phrase “everything will be alright”. These artworks are put up on the windows, balconies or terraces of their homes. Similarly, in the United States, families have adopted the idea of sticking coloured hearts on windows and doors. These artworks make our children feel they are contributing to overcome this pandemic. Besides, they are beneficial as they allow to have a good time with our family and bring joy to the home.
Talking to children about Coronavirus doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need to stay calm in order to give them confidence, and be honest at all times so you can explain in simple language the meaning of the disease and the precautions we need to take.
Moreover, this can be a great opportunity to talk to children about other health issues and also, to encourage them to convey messages of hope through art. Have you already talked to your children about Coronavirus? Tell us about your experience in the comments section!