Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

How to Talk to Your Kids About the COVID-19 Outbreak

Health + Wellness
How to Talk to Your Kids About the COVID-19 Outbreak
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread, some children may have questions and may be feeling afraid. Thanasis Zovoilis / Moment / Getty Images

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.

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less
Monarch butterflies in Mexico's Oyamel forest in Michoacan, Mexico after migrating from Canada. Luis Acosta / AFP / Getty Images

By D. André Green II

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.

Read More Show Less
The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on Sept. 17 introduced ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners, each intended to make people "laugh then think." Improbable Research / YouTube

The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch