How to Talk to Your Children about Coronavirus: 15 Free Resources for Parents and Kids
Your child may have heard things about Coronavirus at school, on TV or when you’ve been speaking to other adults. Talking about Coronavirus to your kids can be important to quelling fear and anxiety, especially if rumor and active imaginations are filling their gaps in knowledge.
We put together some useful parents-friendly links, as well as engaging, kid-friendly resources that you can use to help explain this complex issue in an understandable way.
Kids and Coronavirus: How To Talk To Your Children About It:
While there is quite a lot that has been written on this topic in the last few weeks, the experts seem to agree on some core principles:
1. Make time to talk and don’t just avoid the issue - by now, kids will likely have heard something about the virus, and many will have experienced changes to their everyday routines.
2. Remain calm and reassuring when you talk to them about what’s happening.
Provide information that is honest and age-appropriate, and turn to trusted sources to help.
3. Manage their exposure to the news, which can be hard for young minds to digest and understand
Provide ways for kids to feel empowered and in control, including making hand washing and hygiene fun.
Resources for Parents
Consider your approach
Thinking about how to approach the conversation is a good place to start.
UNICEF’s page includes tips on having these conversations with your children.
The Child Mind Institute’s resources include a short, useful video for parents.
This New York Times article by Dr. Madeline Levine provides specific tips for every age group. (If you’re not a subscriber, you can see 5 articles for free each month.)
Commonly asked questions
It’s not always easy to communicate complex ideas in a way that kids understand. These organizations offer some suggestions.
The CDC guidelines for talking to your kids include straightforward responses to commonly asked questions about COVID-19.
Harvard Medical School is another place you can find kid-friendly answers.
If it’s a toddler asking, early childhood non-profit Zero to Three offers some suggested answers to tricky questions, including why people are wearing masks, changes to their routine, and why they can’t see grandma or grandpa right now.
While this is a stressful time for everyone, kids may feel especially anxious or confused.
The World Health Organization (WHO) offers tips for helping kids during this uncertain time.
Psychology Today includes helpful pointers for managing children’s stress and emotions at every stage of their development, from infants through to teens.
Resources for kids
Lots of parents and caregivers are in a similar situation to you right now. Know that you’re not alone in tackling this difficult topic, and there are lots of resources made just for kids that can help.
Red Nose Day partner Scholastic offers activities and resources to help ease kids’ fears and empower them with age-appropriate information that’s organized by grade level (PreK-3, 4-5, and 6-12).
Education site BrainPOP was originally designed by a Doctor to explain difficult concepts to his young patients. The site’s Coronavirus page includes a comprehensive animated explainer. It’s available in Spanish and French as well.
Dr. Michelle Dickinson’s (aka Nanogirl’s) video includes a friendly, straightforward explainer on the Coronavirus, how it can spread, and how we can help to stop it – including a glow in the dark demonstration! Her video on why soap works to kill the virusis informative for adults too, and it includes a fun activity on making a germ-fighting super-powered soap for kids.
Developed by NPR, this easy to understand comic has now been used by teachers and parents around the world. The comic is also available in Chinese and as a print-and-fold“zine”, a mini-magazine. (If you’ve never made a zine before, click here for directions.) NPR has a 3-minute audio story that covers the same information.
If you have a mini-podcast fan in the family, you can find more comprehensive podcasts too. Both of these have informative content, a reassuring tone and answers to key questions while keeping kids (and adults) entertained:
From American Public Media, Brains On is an award-winning science podcast for kids (and curious adults) which dedicates an episode to Understanding coronavirus and how germs spread (34 minutes)
Vermont Public Radio’s science podcast But Why has a episode on Coronavirus For Kids, And The Science Of Soap (31 minutes)
Finally, if your kids are not excited about handwashing, this animated explainer from BrainPop could be a good place to start, or perhaps this song from the Singing Walrus(though it may get stuck in your head too).
Information is rapidly changing about the Coronavirus. To stay up to date on the most recent information go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
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