Most children have heard about the coronavirus either in school or at home. They may have seen people wearing face masks or heard statistics on the news. Talking to your child about facts in a developmentally appropriate way can help to alleviate worry and fear. Ask your child what they already know, may have heard, or how they feel. This will allow you to judge how best to answer their questions honestly and clearly without offering too much information that may overwhelm them. This guide can be used to help you speak with your child about the Coronavirus in a developmentally friendly way.
What is the Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus is a virus that causes illnesses like the common cold or COVID-19. COVID-19 is a virus that can cause fever, a cough, and difficulty breathing. It is passed from person to person through droplets when people sneeze or cough. If someone sneezes without using a tissue or covering with the inside of their elbow, droplets can land on a desk, or other surface. If another person touches that same desk or surface and then touches their face, they could get sick. This is why handwashing and covering when coughing and sneezing is so important. A healthy body can usually fight off this virus, known as COVID-19, and many kids only have mild symptoms if they do catch it.
Why is school closed?
Doctors and health officials have asked us to avoid large crowds to reduce the amount of germs we spread. Some of these large crowds include school. Everyone at school cares about you and they want to make sure you and your family stay healthy and safe.
What can I do to keep myself healthy?
- The Coronavirus is spread mostly by people coughing and touching surfaces with germs. If you have to sneeze or cough, use a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
- Use soap and water to keep your hands clean. Wash the front and back of your hands for at least 20 seconds (trying singing the Happy Birthday song) before eating, when you come in from outside, and after coughing, sneezing or using the bathroom.
- Try not to touch your face (eyes, mouth, nose) with your hands.
- Keep your body strong by getting lots of sleep, eating healthy foods, and drinking plenty of water!
- Talk about your feelings. Having a trusted adult to talk with can help you feel calm and safe.
How to Calm Your Worries and Fears
When we are worried, our thoughts can have an effect on the way our body feels. Some common symptoms are headache, stomach ache, heavy breathing and a fast heartbeat. This is a normal response caused by our bodies to protect us from danger. Sometimes our brain can’t tell the difference between real danger and our thoughts, or worries. Try these activities below to help your brain re-gain control and feel better!
Slow, Deep Breathing
When we control our breathing, it helps to calm our bodies down and let us think clearly.
- Pretend you are holding a cup of hot cocoa.
- Take a slow deep breath in – imagine you are trying to smell the chocolate.
- Exhale slowly – as you use your breath to cool the hot drink.
- Repeat 5 times or until your breathing has slowed.
Keep a Routine
When you are at school, your day is structured. Knowing what is going to happen gives us a feeling of comfort and control. Try setting a schedule at home with your family or creating daily goals that you can keep track of. For example you could try Math Monday’s, Time to Read Tuesday’s, and set a goal for how many random acts of kindness you can do.
Finding an activity you love to do can take your mind off any worries. Exercise and physical activity also help improve your mood by releasing important chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy and less stressed.
- Color, paint, draw, or write in a journal
- Play a board game with your family
- Do jumping jacks, or run laps in your yard
- Dance, sing, play an instrument
Talk it Up
Remember, it is ok to have worries. It is also important to remember to talk about those worries with someone you trust.
- Talk about how you are feeling with the trusted adults around you and ask questions if you have any. They are paying attention to what is going on and are here to help.
- Talk with family or loved ones that live far away by phone or video chat.
- Talk to your friends! Even if you can’t see them every day, a phone call or message can keep everyone feeling connected.