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  • How To Talk And Reassure Your Child About COVID-19 When Even The Adults Are Scared

    Tip 1: Make sure YOU’RE calm.
    by Kate Borbon .
How To Talk And Reassure Your Child About COVID-19 When Even The Adults Are Scared
PHOTO BY iStock
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the individuals most at risk of contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are older adults and those with preexisting health conditions. With community quarantine in place in the National Capital Region, however, you cannot skirt around the topic of a COVID-19 pandemic with your kids.

    The situation we are in right now is scary. The fact that we are highly encouraged to stay indoors will make kids feel anxious, especially when the news all day is about the rising number of confirmed cases.

    How to talk to your child about COVID-19

    What can you do as a parent? It does not help when your kids see you panicking. So here are some tips to consider when talking to your child about COVID-19

    1. Check yourself first.

    Before you talk to your child about this pandemic, check how you’re feeling first. The CDC says that children react to both what their parents say and how they say it. So it’s better to make sure you’re neither scared nor nervous when you talk to your child.

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    2. Be honest.

    If your child has questions about anything regarding the pandemic, be as truthful as you can with your answer. Kids Health also recommends that you refrain from offering more details than what your child is asking, especially if she cannot developmentally understand it yet.

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    Remind your child that she can approach you if she has any questions, the CDC says. And if she asks about anything but you don’t know the answer to it, just say so.

    3. Give fact-based answers.

    Organizations such as the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are consistently updating their websites with up-to-date information on COVID-19. Check these and similar sources for research-backed facts instead of relying on data that you find on social media, which are not always true.

    Our own Department of Health (DOH) now has a tracker where you can see the number of patients with COVID-19, where they are, their age and sex, and which hospitals are treating patients. (Click here to go to DOH's COVID-19 tracker.)

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    You can tell them that based on reports around the world, kids who do get COVID-19 get milder symptoms and they seem to be at low risk. (Read more here.)       

    Kids Health encourages parents to tell their kids about the things that other people are doing to help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, like the healthcare workers who are treating infected individuals and the scientists developing a vaccine against COVID-19. This could help her feel more reassured.

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    4. Limit your child's access to news on COVID-19.

    Kids these days have so much access to information via television and the Internet, and what they see there could make them scared and anxious. Try limiting her screen time and instead, provide activities you can do at at home (click here to see what you can try). Again, encourage her to come to you for questions regarding COVID-19 (again, make sure you get your information from reputable sources).

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    5. Watch for signs of anxiety.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that while kids might not be able to express their worries verbally, they might do so through their actions. They might become clingy or crankier or have trouble sleeping. If you notice these signs in your child, the AAP suggests reassuring her and continuing with your normal daily routine.

    6. Focus on ways to prevent the spread of the disease.

    The CDC says one way to help your child feel more in control is to tell her what she can do to lessen the spread of COVID-19, like washing her hands. Teach her to make it a habit to wash her hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after coughing, sneezing, blowing her nose, and using the bathroom, and before eating.

    Remind her to stay away from people who cough or sneeze and to use her sleeve or a handkerchief when she coughs or sneezes. You can also discuss the precautionary measures being ordered by the government, like class suspensions and event cancelations.

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