Depending on the age of your child, they know by now that something is going on in the world because they aren’t going to school or playing with their friends. One of the best ways to help children alleviate fear is to tell them what is happening in the world. But how can you explain the novel coronavirus to your child without frightening them? We have a few suggestions below.
For children ages 2-6: You can tell them that there is a “bad bug” out there and that it is making people sick. There is no reason to go into detail. Teach them ways to keep the bad bug away by covering their mouth with their elbow when they sneeze or cough and to sing the alphabet song while washing their hands.
There is also this adorable video that explains social distancing to young children called, “Time To Come In Bear.”
For children ages 7-12: Explain to them about the importance of hygiene because of the coronavirus. You can tell them that it is extremely dangerous and that we need to make sure that you are washing your hands and are not around other people except your immediate family. And to stay inside the house, except for short walks while avoiding people and playing in the backyard (if you have one).
Teens: Teens will feel this the hardest. They will know what is going on from social media. Explain it and let them know that they will be fine if they follow the CDCs recommendations. Stay in, wash their hands, and encourage them to use technology to keep in touch with their friends.
Remember to be aware of adult conversations around your little ones. They hear you. Talking about sickness and death can manifest in behavior problems and sleep disruptions, including suddenly becoming afraid of the dark to having nightmares. No matter what happens, like Mr. Fred Roger’s of the television series Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood said, “In any disaster, always look for the helpers.” By the way, he got that great advice from his mom.