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Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus

February 6th, 2020     By Boys Town Contributor

Behavior, Communicating with Children, Communicating with Kids, Crisis, Mental Health, Parenting Questions

​​Information about the Coronavirus can be frightening and cause people, especially children, to feel unsafe. Parents today must be increasingly diligent about monitoring and supervising the information their children are able to access.

Setting boundaries and limits is the first step in protecting children and working to make sure they have access to age appropriate information. That might mean parents are not watching the news during dinner time with their young children. Or, when they have the news on, the children are playing in another room.

There will be times when children have access to or are exposed to information that is frightening and makes them feel unsafe. Parents can do a couple of things to help their children cope with and manage such information.

  1. Parents are encouraged to keep conversations about significant news events, like the Coronavirus, within the context of adult conversation. Be careful not to talk about the situation in front of your children in an alarmed and frightened manner.
  2. Parents are encouraged to ask their children if they have questions about what they heard or would like to talk about it. When children want to talk, pay attention to their questions and answer the questions asked. Be careful not to go beyond the question or provide extraneous information that may serve to confuse or frighten your children. Keep the answers simple and short.
  3. Let your children know in a confident and matter of fact manner that they are safe.
  4. Parents are encouraged to make sure the news event does not occupy their attention distracting them from attending to their children and typical routines. Parents may have to wait until the children are asleep or occupied in a safe manner before pursing further information and conversation about the event.
  5. If parents feel kids are overly concerned or they are having problems dismissing the event, have them think about other’s problems. A good way to handle that is to encourage your children to pray for the people involved in the situation, those sick, and all their loved ones.

Additional resources for talking with children about the unexpected:
Helping Children Cope with the Unexpected
Media Bombardment
Video: Is It Possible to Keep My Child from Hearing Negative Media Coverage About a Crisis?

For additional advice, help and resources on parenting through a difficult situation, contact the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. Trained counselors are available 24/7.​

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