The COVID-19 coronavirus has spread across the world, and questions have sparked from everyone, including children. Your children may have heard about the virus from classmates, the media or other sources. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents and others who work closely with children to filter information and talk about coronavirus concerns in a way that children can understand. These tips can help.
Offer Simple Reassurance
Remind children that doctors and researchers are learning as much about the new coronavirus as they can, as quickly as they can, and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
Give Them Control
Remind your children of what they can do to help keep people from getting sick – washing their hands often, coughing into a tissue or their sleeves, and getting enough sleep.
"The best thing you can do is teach them about good hand sanitizing. Make sure they know how and when to wash their hands," said Francine Pearce, MD, a pediatrician with Franciscan Physician Network Tinley Park Walk-In Clinic. "If they don't have the ability to wash their hands, make sure they know what hand sanitizer is and that they know it is safe to use. Remind your child to try to not touch their face. The mode of infection is that the coronavirus must be brought to your face and into your nostrils or mouth, so avoiding face touching is recommended. If your children will be around someone sick, whether that be at school or somewhere else, the sick person should have on a mask that covers their mouth and nose."
Watch For Signs Of Anxiety
Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going, and try to stick to your normal routines when possible.
Monitor Children's Media Usage
Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc.
For older children, talk together about what they are hearing on the news, on social media and at school, and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.
Learn more about the COVID-19 coronavirus, including resources to find the latest news, and how Franciscan Health is preparing.
By Ariel Anderson
Social Media Specialist