How to talk to your child about COVID-19

As the world is turning its focus on understanding what COVID-19 is, and ways to prevent viruses like it from spreading, it is also important to take time to talk with your child or teen about the spread of viruses and the best ways to protect themselves. Remember, the age of your young person matters, so it is important to give them the facts in ways that they can understand.

In times of uncertainty it is very important to reassure the young people in your life and thoughtfully talk to them about what is going on.

First, hone up on your knowledge. Review the CDC guidelines for healthy habits. Prevention, stopping a problem before it becomes a problem, is the ultimate goal.

Tips for talking to kids about COVID-19:

  1. For older children, ask them what they’ve heard about COVID-19 and what questions they might have. Gauge their level of knowledge and help them sort fact from fiction.
  2. It is a parent, or positive mentor’s job to help young people feel safe and secure. Reassure young people if they are worried, that they are safe. It’s important that kids are not asked to support their caregivers concerns or worries.
  3. Share with them what you know and what you don’t know. Help them understand that scientists are studying the virus every day and are learning more. Be sure to create opportunities for more conversations as more information is understood about the virus.
  4. For younger and older children, one of the best things you can do is reinforce healthy hygiene habits. Ask them: What do we do now to stay healthy? What could we do more of? What can we do better? Here is some prevention guidance from the Centers for Disease Control to protect yourself and your family.
  5. Don’t forget to try to make it fun! Especially for younger children, focus on healthy habits and make up a game to reinforce them. For example make-up a contest for coming up with a new fun song to sing every time they wash their hands (that lasts 20 seconds).

Preventing the spread of viruses is important every cold and flu season, and especially now. Continue to follow guidance from the CDC and local health departments in your community to stay up to date.