How to Talk to Your Kids About the COVID-19 Outbreak
By Leah Campbell
The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious health concern for most people right now. But for kids taking in the news, fears surrounding it may be especially daunting.
So, how can parents help their children manage their fears, while also remaining aware and alert themselves?
Here's how experts advise parents to approach the topic of the COVID-19 outbreak and talk to their kids about the potential risks.
Know Whether or Not to Broach the Subject
For kids who are already expressing concern, parents should make themselves available to help them work through those fears. But should families be bringing the topic up if a child hasn't said anything yet?
Haley Neidich, a licensed mental health professional and practicing psychotherapist, said that parents should be aware their kids may have concerns, even if they aren't talking about them.
"Just because your child doesn't bring it up to you, does not mean it's not on their mind," she said.
Licensed marriage and family therapist Heidi McBain agreed. "Ideally you have open communication with them, so they can come to you with questions and you can also bring up these topics with them if you feel like it's necessary and helpful."
She said her youngest actually brought concerns to her about coronavirus before she even knew what it was. "So, personally, I had to educate myself first so that I could better answer the questions."
Make Sure You Understand the Risks
Before talking to kids about what they may be seeing on the news or hearing from their peers, parents should make sure they have an understanding of the virus first.
You'll want to be able to answer your kids' questions honestly, which is why the CDC can be a great resource.
Dr. Teena Chopra, medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at DMC Harper University Hospital, said that "parents should inform their kids that what is known about the virus at this point that it is a respiratory virus" and that the illness can be asymptomatic (no symptoms), or have symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
"Parents can use the example of comparing it to other viruses such as influenza, and talk about how hand hygiene is the most important thing to prevent the virus," she said.
Chopra added that parents should be teaching their kids to wash their hands for 20 seconds after bathroom use, before eating, and after going to public places.
Also, they should avoid touching their mouths, eyes, and nose.
Right now, Chopra explained that there are still ongoing investigations regarding how transmittable the virus is and what impacts its severity.
She said that while it's hard to know the risk levels for all people at this point, it is potentially fatal.
Having the Talk
Neidich said that parents should listen to their children's fears and not dismiss them. She explained that this can be accomplished by practicing active listening.
In other words, give your children your full attention and acknowledge their feelings out loud.
"Help them understand the facts rather than rumors about the virus when developmentally appropriate," Neidich said.
Of course, that requires managing our own fears surrounding the illness. That's why McBain says it's important to "educate yourself on what's going on and how you can best protect yourself."
Parents should also check in with themselves and consider how their fears may be impacting their children.
"When a parent is anxious, their child is going to feel that anxiety and take it on, regardless of how well they think they mask or hide their anxiety," Neidich said.
For this reason, if the current news cycle is contributing to your anxiety, she suggests talking to a counselor and relying on your support system of parenting peers who may be experiencing similar feelings.
If your child is starting to experience panic attacks or phobias surrounding coronavirus or anything else? McBain said: "A therapist might be the next step to helping you and/or your child work through these fears in a healthy way."
The important thing is to continue having open communication as a family.
If your child is experiencing worries or concerns, you don't want them keeping those in. Talk about those fears, rely upon the data we currently have to assuage those fears when possible, and don't be afraid to turn off the news if necessary.
It's sometimes okay to step away from the current news cycle for the benefit of your and your child's mental health.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
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One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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