How to talk to your children about Coronavirus?

Dear patients,

I hope that you are all keeping well despite the ongoing situation. 

I am glad to share with you this document that will give you some useful tips about how to talk to your children about Coronavirus outbreak. If you have missed my advices on how to take care of your mental health during these difficult times, please click here (Part 1), here (part 2) and here (part 3).

Talking is always positive: your children/stepchildren will have heard about Coronavirus and maybe noticed ongoing changes (e.g. people wearing face masks; people queuing in front of supermarkets). It is pivotal that your children feel comfortable talking to you about Coronavirus as you will be the best source of information, reassurance and comfort. Keep in mind that they might talk to their friends and peers, which may involve disinformation, imagination and fantasy. Having the possibility to check-in with you is the best option.

Say the truth and adapt to your children’s age group: you can give your children factual information, but adjust the language and amount of information to fit their age. For example, you can say that many people might get sick, but for most of them it is like flu or a cold and they will get better soon. Younger children might understand pictures or a cartoon better. 

Allow children to ask questions: it is normal that children will have questions, worries and a certain ‘child vision’ about Coronavirus. Giving them a protected space and time to ask questions and obtain answers is a good way to decrease anxiety. Try to be honest in your responses, otherwise your children will know it.

Try to manage your own worries:  In general, uncertainty makes people feel anxious and worried. This is because people do not know what will happen next. This means that they do not have any control and cannot be proactive. Identify other family members and friends with whom you can talk about your worries and questions or share your worries with me during your session. Talk to your children/stepchildren when you feel calm – it will reassure them.

Give your children practical advice: remind your children/stepchildren of the most important things they can do to stay healthy (e.g. washing their hands and the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ advice for coughs and sneezes). Help your child practice and increase their motivation for keeping going. 

Do not hesitate to get in touch if you need me. My working schedule remains unchanged during the Coronavirus outbreak. 

With warm wishes,

Dr Ivanka Ezhova  (check biography here).