You cannot live on this planet and not know the effects the outbreak Covid-19 is having on the world as we know it. Every time we turn on the television or radio, social media, or even standing in a grocery store line-up it’s on everyone’s mind and is being talked about endlessly.
But what about kids? What do they know? How much of Covid-19 do they understand? As a mother of a thirteen-year-old who had an interesting conversation with my son, I realized that kids don’t get a whole lot of what is happening surrounding this infectious outbreak.
So here is what to tell your kids about Covid-19 and how to lessen the fear they might feel.
When I spoke to my son about Covid-19, it never dawned on me that he might not understand what is truly going on. It wasn’t until all his pre-spring-break activities were cancelled that he began asking me questions on why this was happening. And I wondered as a parent just how honest I should be about the situation.
Use age-appropriate language to explain things to your kids
Depending on the age of your child, my rule of thumb has always been, to tell the truth. Educate yourself as parents. The CDC has great advice with facts for you to learn to understand dealing with the coronavirus. Arming kids with the right information and a way to take control can help lessen their fears.
Covid-Faq’s-For Kids can help parents learn the right way to talk to their kids and can provide kids with a way to feel secure by giving them information to take control of their own health, and can help put aside the scary stuff they see on television.
Teach Kids What they can do
Kids can take charge and help by having parents who lead by example beginning with how to wash our hands properly. Kids can encourage their friends to wash their hands. Make elbow bumps more fun than fist bumps and give big smiles instead of hugs. Avoid shaking hands with anyone.
Parents can show kids how handwashing can be fun. Learn how to scrub all the right places including under their fingernails. Use a catchy song or something to make sure the 20 second-hand washing rule applies. Even have a contest for whose hands are the cleanest.
Hands should be washed after using the bathroom, before eating or touching food, even when you come into the house, make sure everyone washes their hands. And remember to teach kids not to touch their faces, put anything in their mouths and not to share food or drinks.
Keep Life Normal
I have read online that parents should hide their emotions and fears from their children. I disagree. Though I have a teenager, so sharing how I feel and my own fears and anxiety is something as a bipolar mom I often do. And I’ve always tried to be honest.
For younger kids with fears about the virus, have them write or draw what they are feeling. For my son, I asked him to write me a poem on what he would say to the virus. This helped him get his anxiety under control. And try to keep family life as normal as possible.
Explain to your kids that they may be on a longer spring break vacation. Explain to them that some people are just afraid and act a bit silly when they see people fighting over groceries or toilet paper. Yes, this is happening where I live. It’s insane. And above all else, explain that family means sticking together to keep one another safe.
Here are a few facts I used to answer some of the questions my son had about the virus. He’s thirteen with disabilities, and some of the questions may seem dumb but remember kids think on different levels and have more imagination than we do.
If you get Covid-19 will the government put you in quarantine and take you away?
No. I would and we are putting ourselves in quarantine to stay safe until we get a handle on this virus. Quarantine means limiting our contact with people, especially people who are sick, just as we would with the normal flu or cold.
Will you die if you Covid-19?
The people who are dying of the virus are mostly elderly or young children and most have underlying health conditions that affect their immune systems. Just as with the normal flu.
What happens if I get Covid-19? Will you send me away?
No. I would make sure you have what you need to get over the cold and flu symptoms. That means quarantine, staying in bed, getting lots of sleep and eating properly, while limiting your contact with other people. And yes I would still give you hugs.
I’m scared. I don’t want to lose you or the people I love. What can I do?
Nothing. Stay healthy. Wash your hands. Again the virus is infecting lots of people, but most people recover from it. It’s okay to be afraid and it’s okay to fear to lose the ones you love, but by taking care of yourself, washing your hands appropriately and keeping your distance from those who are ill, you can help keep your family safe.
No matter what you do, be honest with your kids about the coronavirus. Don’t ignore their questions but don’t prompt them either. Let your kids guide you to what they know and what you should be telling them, and make sure you constantly reassure them that they are loved and safe with you by their side. Keep your own anxiety at bay. Keep monitoring what social channels your kids are using. And above all else, let your kids know that you are there for them and we will get through this together.
Stay happy and healthy!
(Photos by Pexels & Globe and Mail)