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How to speak to your kids about Coronavirus without scaring them

It's unavoidable. It's on the television, it's all over social media, people everywhere are talking about it and it's evident in some places that 'something' is going on. So how to we speak to our children about this latest outbreak without scaring them?


There's no one-size-fits all solution here because it depends on the age of your kids and how much you want them to know but one thing is definitely true and that is that children worry more when they're kept in the dark. Open lines of communication are important in families anyway and this is no different.


There are a few things that we can all do to help stop our children from worrying unduly whilst giving them the information they need.


1. Don't be afraid to discuss the Coronavirus with your children. They may have seen news reports with people wearing face masks, they may have heard children in their class talking about the virus and they may also have heard things that aren't true so do talk about the outbreak but give them the facts, be the filter between the news and your child whilst being reassuring.


2. Don't offer too much information. You can broach the subject and ask your children what they've heard and how they're feeling about what they've heard, this sets the tone for the conversation. This allows you to see what information they already have and the opportunity to debunk any myths they may have come across. As the parent it is up to you to make the information you give your child age-appropriate.


3. Keep your routine. Routine is important to children anyway and keeping your routine will help reassure them that the Coronavirus is not something for them to be scared about but to be aware. Avoiding regular activities or 'hiding away' from social gatherings will only spread fear unless it is recommended by Public Health England. Even if your childrens' schools close you can stick to a routine with getting up and going to bed as well as mealtimes to keep your routine flowing.


4. Focus on what you're doing to stay safe. The official advice is to frequently and thoroughly wash your hands, try not to touch your face and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue then bin it (and wash hand thoroughly afterwards). These are basic things that we can ask our children to focus on to try and prevent them picking the bug up in the first place and will help your kids to feel as though they are doing something productive and therefore reduce the fear and worry surrounding the entire issue. If your children ask why some people are wearing face masks you can explain that those people are being extra cautious.You can keep up to date with the official advice on the government's Public Health England webpage.


5. Keep communicating. Let your kids know that it's ok to ask questions and it's ok for us not to have all the answers too! And remember - even if you are feeling anxious about the outbreak, be the filter that your children need to keep them calm about the situation and not be scared about the information.


So, what symptoms of Coronavirus, specifically Covid-19 should we be watching out for? Here's a simple infographic.


Coronavirus Covid-19 symptoms infographic talk to your child about outbreak virus

More resources:

Public Health England

World Health Organization (WHO)

NHS 111

UK government response to COVID-19



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