Talking with your Child about COVID-19
Dear GHC Parents,
We want to provide you with a simple resource for how to talk with your child(ren) about the coronavirus. Information about COVID-19 is all around us and can be overwhelming so we thought a practical list with a spiritual perspective would be most helpful.
*Don’t be afraid to discuss the coronavirus. Not talking about something can actually make kids worry more. Your goal is to help your children feel informed and get fact-based information. Here is some wording you can use: What makes the coronavirus so unusual and so dangerous is that you can catch it as a sickness by just being around people who have it, and you can’t tell when they have it. And that makes it really dangerous, which is why everybody is staying inside these days, trying to stop the virus. And it’s dangerous because it is ten times more serious than the ordinary flu. And the reason our leaders, like the governors and the President of the United States, are so concerned is because maybe one or two or three people out of every hundred who get this sickness will die from it.
*Be developmentally appropriate. Don’t volunteer too much information as this may be overwhelming. Instead, try to answer your child’s questions. Do your best to answer honestly and clearly. It’s okay if you can’t answer everything; being available to your child is what matters.
*Take your cues from your child. Invite your child to tell you anything they may have heard about the coronavirus and how they feel. Give them ample time to ask questions. Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies.
*Deal with your own anxiety. If you notice you are feeling anxious, take some time to calm down before trying to have a conversation or answer your child’s questions.
*Be reassuring. Children are very egocentric so hearing about the coronavirus on the news may be enough to make them seriously worry that they’ll catch it. It’s helpful to reassure your child about how rare the coronavirus actually is (the flu is much more common) and that kids actually seem to have milder symptoms.
*Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. An important way to reassure kids is to emphasize the safety precautions that you are taking. Kid’s feel empowered when they know what to do to keep themselves safe. Remind kids that they are taking care of themselves by washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the length of two “Happy Birthday” songs) when they come in from outside, before they eat, after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing, or using the bathroom. If kids ask about face masks, explain that experts say they aren’t necessary for most people. People who are being extra cautious use face masks.
*Stick to routine. Make sure you are taking care of the basics just like you would during a spring break or summer vacation. Structured days with regular meal times and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy.
*Keep talking. Tell kids that you will continue to keep them updated as you learn more. You can say “Even though we don’t have the answers to everything right now, know that once we know more, mom or dad will let you know.”
*What does the Bible have to say? The Bible teaches that God is stronger than the coronavirus. We know this because Matthew 4:24 says, “They brought [Jesus] all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains . . . and he healed them.” Jesus is more powerful than diseases — every one of them. In fact, over and over again, the Bible tells us that God commands the wind, rain, snow, lightning, plants, grass, grasshoppers, flies, frogs, gnats, worms, whales, birds, and everything else. He commands them where to go, what to do, and they do what he says. They have to; he’s God. They do what he says. God made the whole world and everything in it, and he holds the world in his hand, and he does what he wants to do with the world and in the world. The creator of the universe is also the one who is holding our hands through this scary time. That is His promise to us.
If you need further help on how to talk with your child/ren, feel free to reach out to the school counselor, Annise Koops, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616)745-5495.
Annise Koops, LLMSW
Adapted from childmind.org “Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus” and https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-to-talk-to-children-about-the-coronavirus.