Lincoln Family Doctors Provide Tips for Talking to Kids About COVID-19.

As Family Health Physicians, we encourage honest discussions about current events. 

Due to COVID-19, there has been a loss of daily routine, isolation and uncertainty that can lead to fear, anxiety, depression and loneliness. Rumors, misinformation, and information overload cannot only make adults feel out of control, but your children too.  Children often sense the way you are feeling. Talking to them about what is going on can be a challenging topic to discuss, but accurate discussions with your children about COVID-19 can help them understand what’s happening, relieve some of their fears, make them feel safe, and help them begin to cope. Children may start to worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Here are a few tips for talking with them about the virus.

1. How to explain to them what COVID-19 is

  • It is a short name for “coronavirus disease 2019.” Doctors and other medical professionals are still learning about this new virus. They are working hard to keep people healthy and safe from the virus.
  • If you get sick with COVID-19, the symptoms are similar to having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems. From what health care providers have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While a lot of adults get sick, most adults get better.

2. Make time to talk and listen

  • Ask them what they already know about the situation and if they have any questions or concerns.
  • Limit access to news.
    • Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19 as too much information can lead to anxiety.
  • Avoid language that might put blame on others.
    • This virus can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, or age.
  • Provide accurate and honest information.
    • If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, be honest and answer as best you can, remember that not all stories on the internet are true.

3. Remain calm

  • Children will react to what you say and how you say it. Remind them that how they feel right now is OK. Paint a positive outlook of the future.

 4. Teach children how to reduce the spread of germs

  • Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Teach proper hand washing. They should be washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Have them sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Instruct them to wash their hands especially after blowing their nose, sneezing, coughing, after going to the restroom, and before eating. 
  • Get them in the habit of washing their hands frequently.
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when using this.
  • Have them avoid touching their face.
  • Older children can help adults clean frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, desks, phones, and remote controls.

5. Keep a routine

  • Structure helps kids predict what’s planned, allowing them to feel in control over certain situations.

6. Be creative

  • Have fun. Encourage activities that your child enjoys, such as reading, music, art and craft projects, puzzles, and outdoor play. Play games with your children. Have family movie nights.
  • Enjoy virtual socializing with family and friends using FaceTime, Zoom, or similar apps. This can help to build and maintain relationships.

The health and wellbeing of your children is paramount, and while we can’t predict the future, we can control our present by having open, honest discussions about current events. Thank you for trusting Primary Care Partners in Lincoln, NE with your health and the health of your family. If you have any further questions, give us a call at (402) 483-2987