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While you’re busy trying to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, leave time to talk about the disease with the kids in your life. They’ve seen and heard enough to know something’s up. They’ll worry more if they sense you’re unwilling or afraid to talk to them.
Here are some suggestions from the Progressive Community Health Centers and online sources.
Talk (and listen) to kids
Ask children if they have questions about the current situation, but don’t force them to talk if they don’t want to. The best approach is to let kids tell you what they’ve heard, and what they’re worried about, and then give them factual, age-appropriate answers.
Be a media gatekeeper
Be the buffer between children and the media, which is sometimes emotional or exaggerated in tone. Avoid watching or listening to information that might be upsetting when children are present.
Be reassuring, but truthful. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems. From what doctors have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While a lot of adults get sick, most adults get better.”
Focus on what you’re doing – and what they can do – to stay safe. Kids feel empowered when they know how to minimize their risk.
Remind them to:
- wash their hands
- keep their distance from people who are coughing or sneezing
- avoid touching surfaces that might be contaminated
- keep their hands off their faces.
Stick to a routine
Help kids maintain as much of a routine as possible even though school activities have been suspended. Keep regular bed/wakeup times, eat meals on a regular schedule and build in some physical activity and mental breaks for kids throughout the day.
Don’t play the blame game
Avoid stereotyping or blaming one group of people as responsible for the virus. Be aware of comments that other adults are making. You may have to explain what those comments mean if they conflict with your family’s values.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Keep talking. Tell your kids you’ll keep them updated as you get new information. Let them know the lines of communication will stay open.
Show them the love
Remember that children need extra time, attention and affection in a crisis. Even though you’re busy, save time for hugs.
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