Mar 21, 2020 11:01 AM

Tips offered on talking to children about COVID-19

Posted Mar 21, 2020 11:01 AM

Hays Post

As school buildings close and the news is saturated with stories on the coronavirus, professionals are giving suggestions on how to talk to your children about the pandemic.

"I think it is important right now for parents and guardians to be aware of the fact that children are also impacted by what is going on around them," said Kaley Conner, marketing director of High Plains Mental Health.

"They might be feeling the uncertainty, the fear, the anxiety," she said. "They might be afraid themselves, so I think it is important to talk to our kids about what is going on.

"Let them express their emotions in the way they are able and to also give them that extra patience and grace to feel those big emotions. We need to do the best we can as adults to help them through that in a healthy way."

Tips on talking to your children about COVID-19

Kyle Carlin, school psychologist and USD 489 assistant special education director, directed parents to resources provided by the National Association of School Psychologists.

Some of the association's recommendations include:

  1. Remain calm and reassuring
  1. Make yourself available. Children may need extra attention.
  1. Avoid excessive blaming
  1. Monitor television viewing and social media
  1. Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible
  1. Be honest and accurate
  1. Know the symptoms of COVID-19
  1. Review and model basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices and protection

Be aware that developmentally inappropriate information (i.e., information designed for adults) can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young, the association said.

The association also recommends the following talking points.

Suggested points to emphasize when talking to children

  1. Adults at home and school are taking care of your health and safety. If you have concerns, please talk to an adult you trust.
  2. Not everyone will get the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. School and health officials are being especially careful to make sure as few people as possible get sick.
  3. It is important that all students treat each other with respect and not jump to conclusions about who may or may not have COVID-19.
  4. There are things you can do to stay health and avoid spreading the disease
  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  1. Stay home when you are sick.
  1. Cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  1. Wash hands often with soap and water (20 seconds).
  1. If you don’t have soap, use hand sanitizer (60–95 percent alcohol based).
  1. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

To read the entire article from the National Association of School Psychologists click here.

The CDC also has an online article about talking to children about COVID-19. Click here.

SEE RELATED STORY: HPMH offers tips on finding calm during virus crisis

Cover image courtesy Pixabay

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Mar 21, 2020 11:01 AM
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