How to talk with children about Coronavirus Disease ?

A resource for parents, teachers, and others working with children

Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.

Children’s response to stressful events are unique and varied. Some children may be irritable or clingy, and some may regress, demand extra attention, or have difficulty with self-care, sleeping, and eating. New and challenging behavior is a natural response, and adults can help by showing empathy, patience and by calmly setting limits when needed.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you’re hearing about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) right now. It’s also understandable if your children are feeling anxious too. Children might find it difficult to understand what they are seeing online or on TV – or hearing from other people – so they can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness. But having an open, supportive discussion with your children can help them understand, cope and even make a positive contribution for others.

Another important factor is that children hear you talk to others and over phone or a video chat. In the event of COVID-19, all schools, daycares, play groups are closed, mostly indefinitely. Many parents are working from home. Children may be joyful to find their parents home with them. Specially for children whose both parents are working and who spend considerable amount of time without their parents. It becomes very important that parents refrain from complaining how their life is getting tough with children around all the time. Children are sensitive and they should not get the feeling that their presence is making their parents upset in any way. These are tough times, and it is perfectly ok to give priority to your family and children over your work.

1. Social distancing should not mean social isolation.

Children—especially young ones—need quality time with their caregivers and all the other important people in their lives. Social connectedness improves children’s chances of showing resilience to adversity. Creative approaches to staying connected are important (e.g., writing letters, online video chats).

2. Be honest: explain the truth in a child-friendly way

Children have a right to correct information about what’s going on in the world, but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety.

If you can’t answer their questions, don’t guess. Use it as an opportunity to explore the answers together. Websites of international organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization are great sources of information. Explain that some information online isn’t accurate, and that it’s best to trust the experts.

3.Keep children busy.

When children are bored, their levels of worry and disruptive behaviors may increase. Adults can provide options for safe activities (e.g., outside play, blocks, modeling clay, art, music, games) and involve children in brainstorming other creative ideas. Children need ample time to engage in play and other joyful or learning experiences without worrying or talking about the pandemic. 

4. Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.

Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.

Explain that coronavirus has nothing to do with what someone looks like, where they are from or what language they speak. If they have been called names or bullied at school, they should feel comfortable telling an adult they trust.

Remind your children that everyone deserves to be safe at school. Bullying is always wrong and we should each do our part to support each other and spread kindness.

6. Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.

Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

7. Ensure the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver.

The primary factor in recovery from a traumatic event is the presence of a supportive, caring adult in a child’s life. Even when a parent is not available, children can benefit greatly from care provided by other adults (e.g., foster parents, grandparents, relatives, friends) who can offer them consistent, sensitive care that helps protect them from a pandemic’s harmful effects.

8. Take care of yourself
You’ll be able to help your kids better if you’re coping, too. Children will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know you’re calm and in control.

If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people in your community. Make some time to do things that help you relax and recuperate. 

Free Resources to keep your child busy

Illumine recently introduced the concept of sharing lesson plans with parents at home. Since schools around the globe have shutdown on account of corona virus we have had requests from parents and teachers to develop a way for the teachers to share lesson plans. While this allows parents to engage their kids , it also allows the bond between the teachers and the kids to remain intact. Both parents and teachers are worried that when the schools resume the kids will have a tough time adjusting to the school’s environment again.

Illumine’s lesson sharing and assignment is currently being tested out with few schools

Kinedu is offering FREE access to all of its 1,800+ science-based creative activities for kids 0-4 until April 15 (starting tomorrow). Any family, in any setting, will get the full Kinedu experience to continue supporting their child’s development from home. Please help us get the word out and share with / tag anyone with kids 0-4!







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