For the folk at Westbridge Academy, Battersea

How to talk to your children about Coronavirus

Everyone is talking about the Coronavirus. It’s all over the news and social media and it is dominating our thoughts and discussions. It feels like our lives have changed overnight and these huge changes to our daily routines may seem hard to understand and scary for our children.

Children worry more when they are kept in the dark so it’s important to discuss the changes with them in an open and reassuring way. Here are a few things to think about when talking to your children about the Coronavirus:

  • Take cues from your children

    It’s likely that they have already heard lots of things about the Coronavirus. Ask them what they have heard, how they feel about it and what they are worried about. You can then address all their concerns and center the conversation around this.

  • Stick to the facts but be mindful of your child’s age

    You don’t have to shield your children from the truth. Stay up-to-date with the facts using reliable sources (like the BBC) and relay this information back to your children in a truthful but reassuring way.

    Younger children may find it harder to grasp a lot of what is going on, so keep it simple and short. Extra cuddles and snuggles may be the way if they are seeming more clingy than usual - children seem to have a way of picking up our anxieties and stresses too.

    Older children may be going through an array of emotions from being extra worried about their family and friends getting ill to being frustrated that they can’t go outside. Reassure them there are things that we can do to stay safe and maybe talking to friends and family over video calls could help too.

    Regardless of age, tell your children that some of the stories and things they hear about the coronavirus may be false or out of context so if they hear anything that worries them then they should always come and ask you about it.

    Remind them that it’s normal to feel stressed from time to time but things will be OK. Check-in on them regularly asking if they have any questions or are worried about anything and try to end it on a positive note.

  • Focus on the practical things that you can do to stay safe and healthy

    Children will feel more in control and resassured if you emphasise all the things that you are doing to stay safe like:

    • washing hands properly and frequently
    • coughing and sneezing into a tissue and throwing it away
    • eating healthily and getting enough sleep, and
    • following social distancing rules
  • Remain calm and reasurring

    Kids pick up on our worries so try and remain calm when speaking about the Coronavirus. If you’re feeling a bit anxious about things yourself then take some time to feel better and then speak to your children when it feels right.

  • Preserve your routine

    We cling to routine and predictability to feel safe. With the school closed our daily routines have been completly disturbed. So it’s important to maintain some structure in our days that resembles what our children are used to. Regular sleep times and meal times are essential for our childrens’ physical and mental well-being.

Here are some links to free digital books that you can download and read with your children that help answer a lot of key questions about the coronavirus:

Coronavirus - A book for children

Dave the Dog is worried about coronavirus

Finally, if you want to reiterate how important hand-washing is right now to your children then do this really easy but effective Covid-19 germ experiment with them.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions or worries or if you want to share your experiences with talking to your children!

Stay safe and positive!