- Talk when you are calm.
- Ask what your child already knows.
- Clear up misinformation (use recommended sources).
- Know what you want to say before talking.
- Provide clear and simple answers (age / developmentally appropriate).
- Validate concerns and offer comfort and reassurance. Talk about safety and precautions you are using to stay healthy. Be careful not to add unnecessary concerns that are not necessary for child to know (consider age and temperament, what is important to know).
- Limit your child’s exposure to news and adult conversations that might be distressing.
- Ask “what are you wondering about”? “Is there anything you worried about”? “What is confusing about this situation”? What is hard? Scary? (Follow your child’s lead in the conversation). Also, ask about what he or she is missing and validate loss and disappointments.
- Let your child know to talk with you if he or she hears anything new or has questions (e.g., “if you hear anything confusing or new, please let me know so we can talk about it”).
- Finally, it is ok to acknowledge your worry or concern if a child sees you upset or anxious. This is a difficult and unprecedented time. Provide comfort and reassurance. Emphasize safety and what you are all doing to stay healthy.
- Answer your child honestly and provide information that you know; don’t make promises you can’t keep.
- If you do not know the answer, tell your child sympathetically. “I don’t really know. I will let you know when I have more information”.
- Validate your child’s emotions, even if they do not seem important to you.
- Explore concerns: Is there anything else you are worried about? Here’s what we are doing. Washing hands, practicing social distancing, learning online. Ask, “let me know what is on your mind “what are you missing the most”. “How are you feeling?”
- You can help a child identify both positive and negative aspects of being out of school.
- It is also ok to acknowledge and discuss how hard it is to not know, that schools are trying to make decisions that will keep people healthy. Uncertainty is hard and we will try to make the best of this time together.
Helpful websites for Supporting Children and Teens During the Coronavirus/ COVID-19 Pandemic:
Talking about the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources
CDC Talking with Children: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/ talking-with-children.html
For Preschoolers: https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about- coronavirus
Zero to Three- Answering your child’s questions about Coronavirus: https:// www.zerotothree.org/resources/3265-answering-your-young-child-s-questions-about-coronavirus
Workbook: This book might be helpful to talk with children about COVID-19 https://www.mindheart.co/descargables
Comic Book: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a- comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus
A good simple explanation with photos: https://carolgraysocialstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Pandemics-and-the-Coronavirus.pdf
For children with ASD: https://childmind.org/article/tips-for-talking-with-your-child-with-autism-about-the-coronavirus/
Websites for General Support
Child Trends has the following recommendations in an online article: “Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic” at https://www.childtrends.org/publications/resources-for-supporting-childrens-emotional-well-being-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
- Understand that reactions to the pandemic may vary.
- Ensure the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver.
- Social distancing should not mean social isolation.
- Provide age-appropriate information.
- Create a safe physical and emotional environment by practicing the 3 R’s: Reassurance, Routines, and Regulation.
- Keep children busy.
- Increase children’s self-efficacy.
- Seek professional help if children show signs of trauma that do not resolve relatively quickly.
- Create opportunities for caregivers (which may mean yourself!) to take care of themselves.
- Emphasize strengths, hope, and positivity.
Child Mind Institute. This website has great information and several good resources-https://childmind.org (You can also join them on Facebook for videos https://www.facebook.com/ChildMindInstitute/videos/535366040722045/)
- Children: https://childmind.org/article/supporting-kids-during-the-covid-19-crisis/
- Teens: https://childmind.org/article/supporting-teenagers-and-young-adults-during-the- coronavirus-crisis/
KidsHealth-Coronavirus (COVID-19): Calming Coronavirus Anxiety https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/coronavirus-calm.html?ref=search
How teenagers can protect their mental health during the coronavirus: https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/how-teenagers-can-protect-their-mental-health-during-coronavirus-covid-19