How to talk to your kids about COVID-19

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Most children have already heard about coronavirus, but many are scared and confused. It’s important for children to be well informed and have fact-based information. Dr. Roshni Koli, Medical Director for Pediatric Mental Health Services at Dell Children’s was recently featured on KXAN with information about how to help children cope during the pandemic.

Dr. Koli, says caregivers should start by getting the right information, she suggests parents go to cdc.gov and review the facts about COVIC-19 before talking to their kids.

Dr. Koli says it is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. If parents seem overly worried, children’s anxiety may rise. Parents should reassure children that health officials are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy. However, children also need factual, age-appropriate information about the potential seriousness of disease risk and concrete instruction about how to avoid infections and the spread of disease. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety.

Stay calm and be well informed.   

  • Give your child specific things they can do to feel in control.
  • Teach kids that washing their hands helps stop viruses from spreading to others. Remind kids to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the length of two “Happy Birthday” songs).   Be a good role model and let your kids see you washing your hands often!
  • Teach children to cover their mouths with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and throw away the tissue immediately, or sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow. Do not share food or drinks.
  • Practice giving fist or elbow bumps instead of hugs or handshakes. Fewer germs are spread this way.