Most children will now have heard about the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Some may even have expressed a lot of fear or woken up with nightmares — which is not surprising, given the amount of alarming coverage in the news and the fact that the schoolyard can be a breeding ground for fear.
To help calm your kids — and the whole family for that matter — consider these tips. (If you have elementary school aged kids, here’s a useful video from BrainPop to explain the situation.)
1Accurate information is key
Kids should have an accurate description of what is going on. You can describe what the virus is and how it has spread, but focus on how countries are fighting the virus by implementing safe practices.
Focus on how many people are surviving the virus and not how many people are dying. For those with kids who admire a superhero, you can tell them how thousands of doctors and healthcare workers all around the world are acting as superheroes by fighting off this virus the best they can.
3Put things into perspective
News reports can be a little scary, so explain to your kids how there have always been viruses that go around the world and that doctors are trained in how to deal with the situation.
If your kids feel they can be a part of the solution, it will help. So encourage them to follow the advice given by health authorities. Here are a few recommendations based on advice from the World Heath Organization: wash your hands frequently, keep your distance socially (2 meters), avoid touching your face, trap coughs and sneezes in tissues or in the crook of your elbow, seek medical help early if you show symptoms. (A cute little practice in French schools has kids saying hello using their feet instead of shaking hands!)