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Published on April 21, 2020

closeup of mother showing daughter how to wash hands

How Do I Talk to My Kids about This Pandemic?

Families are adapting to a new normal with schools closing, social distancing, and parents who may be experiencing loss of employment or trying to balance working from home and teaching their children. Parents may be wondering how to talk to their kids about the pandemic and what information they should share.

 Here are some tips for talking to your kids about COVID 19:

  • Kids may be feeling stress and anxiety from the adults in their lives. Your child’s age may affect how much they can understand about the outbreak. Keep the discussions age appropriate. Younger children won’t be able to understand as much as older children.
  • Review important hygiene habits such as staying away from people who are coughing or sick. Talk about coughing or sneezing into their elbow or a tissue, and then throwing the tissue in the trash. Review handwashing habits. Show children how to wash their hands and teach them to do so for at least 20 seconds. Remind children to keep their hands off their faces as well.
  • Help children know that there are adults in their life protecting them. Doctors, nurses and scientists are taking care of people who are sick and working to find ways to keep everyone safe.
  • Be aware of how much children see or hear on the news. Be thoughtful of what you say about the outbreak in front of children.
  • Let your child know they can come to you with any questions they may have and answer them honestly and simply. If you don’t know the answer tell them, “I wonder about that too” or “I’m not sure but when I find out more I will tell you.”
  • Ask your child what they know about COVID-19. They may have heard more than you know and they may not understand what they have heard. Let them know you are here to help answer their questions and listen to any feelings they may be having.

We want to create a calm and caring environment for our children during these uncertain times, which is why it is important for parents to talk to their kids and be there to help them minimize fears and anxiety they may be experiencing.

By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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