Kids scared about coronavirus? Here’s how to help

Sharomka | Shutterstock

As the world braces itself for the worst, here are 9 tips to calm the family’s nerves.

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.)

Accurate 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.

Stay positive

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.


Put 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.

Get practical

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!)

Girl Cleaning Hands
Ajay13 | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Switch off from the news

Sometimes too much news can be counterproductive. Don’t expose your children to a lot of media coverage or they may start to panic.

Set an example

As parents you might be a little anxious yourself, but your kids need to see you’re in control. Stay calm and don’t panic and follow any advice given. (If you really need to feel prepared, you can stock up on the essentials and be prepared for self isolation, but remember that’s a worst case scenario.)


Encourage kindness

In circumstances like these, it’s often the case that particular groups of people get blamed. In Europe there have been many racial attacks against Chinese people due to the origins of the disease in Wuhan. Remind your child that blaming people for causing a natural phenomenon is wrong and unkind.

Look out for elderly neighbors or relatives

Senior citizens are the most vulnerable members of society, so your kids might be anxious for any elderly family or friends. You can make sure they’re well cared for if they’re self-isolating by staying in contact with them over the phone or respecting hygiene rules if you visit or drop off supplies. You can get your kids to do some drawings or use social media to stay in touch.

Pray and call upon the saints

When we’re feeling anxious the first thing we should do is pray. Offer up prayers to God and ask for the intercession of favorite saints — it is reassuring to any child to know that God and His heavenly helpers are by their side.

Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.