The global community is talking about COVID-19 — a novel coronavirus that is spreading rapidly across the world. For the latest updates, please consult the CDC and WHO.

The Coronavirus spread and the impact to our global economy have been dominating news sources, seeping into everyday conversations and interrupting daily routines. By now, your children may have heard about Coronavirus on the news or from other children at school. They may have family members in affected countries or experiencing quarantines due to recent international travel.

Whether your children have directly asked about Coronavirus or not, the team at Sawyer has rounded up some insights from our favorite articles to help you discuss the Coronavirus with your little ones.

Tips for having the conversation with your children

Assure your children that they are safe.

Most importantly, emphasizing how many “grown ups” are working hard to keep everyone safe is always a good place to ground the conversation. 

Address your own concerns and anxieties.

As we all know, children are masters at mirroring emotions and reactions. Be sure to check your reactions to mentions of the virus. Your goal is to help your children feel informed and prepared. The best way to control their anxiety and concern is to address your own. 

Assess your child’s understanding and concerns.

Just like adults, children talk among themselves! Ask your children questions to understand what type of background information they already have, especially if they are coming to you to discuss the topic. Questions like “What have you heard about it so far?” and “How have you discussed it at school?” are great places to start. 

“Strategize” ways that they can help.

Some of the anxiety for children comes from a lack of information and a lack of control over the situation. Remind them that the best way to stay healthy is to stay clean! We’ve found that brainstorming ways to stay clean (i.e. washing hands) helps them have a sense of control and ownership over the situation. 

Give them age appropriate information.

Drawing parallels to their past experiences of being sick works best for younger children. Explain that Coronavirus is just like the viruses that sometimes give them a fever, make their bellies hurt or their nose drip. It demystifies the illness and demonstrates that they got through that experience in the past, giving them reference points to understand their own immunity and ability to fight illness.

More information

Materials for Parents

NYTimes Parenting: How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus

Child Mind Institute (en espanol)

CDC: Talking with children about Coronavirus

Materials for Kids

PBS and Daniel Tiger Explain the Coronavirus

Germs Germs Go Away With Handwashing (VIDEO)

Step by Step Handwashing with Elmo (Printable)

Wiggles Hand Washing Song

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