If you haven’t already, we encourage you to talk with your children about COVID-19 as we live out history. This can feel scary, we know. But if you’re able to think through what you’re going to say in advance, you’ll be able to remain calm, thoughtfully answer their questions, and stick to the facts.
As you consider how you’ll talk with your children, keep in mind that children of different ages need different information that is appropriate for their stage of development. The goal is not to scare them or increase their worry around COVID, but rather inform them so they don’t feel afraid, and empower them so they can do their part in the fight against the virus.
Below are some suggestions to help you kick off a conversation with a child of any age:
For toddlers and preschoolers:
This catchy video titled Wash Your Hands with Peppa Pig was made in conjunction with the World Health Organization to encourage hand washing for toddlers and preschoolers. Be forewarned: Once you watch it, it’s hard to stop singing along. It’s that cute and catchy!
For elementary-age children:
My Hero is You: How kids can fight COVID-19. This short storybook, available online, thoughtfully takes the reader through a basic understanding of the coronavirus to the reason for school closures and beyond, while helping children see their role in the fight against the virus. The authors intend for a parent, caregiver, or teacher to read this book with children, rather than a child reading on their own. Helpful coping strategies are brilliantly embedded into the text, giving children tools to deal with fear and sadness. The bright artwork will carry the youngest of readers through the entire story alongside an adult.
*Please note that “6 feet” should be substituted for “1 metre” in the book. In addition to “coughing into your elbow,” the reader can add “wear a cloth mask.”
For middle and high schoolers:
Graphic novels are all the rage for tweens and teens. In an effort to appeal to youth, NPR published a comprehensive comic explaining COVID-19. It may be the springboard you need to begin a conversation with them and open the door to questions they have about the illness.
The pandemic has also been called an “infodemic” because of the mass amount of untrue information being spread and shared on social media. We dedicated a recent blog post to this issue, titled Stop the Spread (of Misinformation). We encourage you to talk with your middle and high schoolers about the “infodemic” so that they are careful not to share or repost misleading information. In a pandemic, misinformation can have serious consequences.
Resources for parents and adults dealing with stress:
COVID-19 is stressful for children and adults alike. If you’re feeling stressed, wait until you’re calm to talk with your children. Children can intuitively feel your stress and this may inadvertently start your conversation with the wrong tone. Remember, the goal of talking to children is to negate fear and empower them with tools to help them do their part in the fight against COVID-19.
The CDC recently released a helpful resource titled Coping with Stress for adults and parents who are dealing with worry, high anxiety, other mental health challenges. We couldn’t agree more with their assessment: “Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.”
If you or a loved one need immediate help, there are resources available to you here in Mesa County. Please reach out for help.
- Colorado Crisis Services
- Or text TALK to 38255
- Crisis Text Line
- Text CO to 741741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line (available 24/7)
Great resources for all ages can also be found at www.mindspringshealth.org/covid19