Talking to kids about the Corona Virus

Many parents are wondering how they can explain and teach their children about what’s out there. Children are hearing parents talking about it. They hear it from the news or from even friends and they might be worried a little bit about it. So how much do kids need to know about it and how do we answer their inquisitive questions which are sure to be many? 

First of all, it has to be age appropriate and as parents you don’t necessarily have to explain everything to them unless they have questions or concerns. This is because there is no reason to raise fear levels for them. 

As parents we need to be reminded that our kids are always listening and watching our reactions. It is best that we remain as calm as we can be when discussing these matters at home especially during the restriction of movement. Children can easily detect if their parents are panicking, stressed and fearful, which in turn will only make them more anxious and restless as well.

Bear in mind that parents shouldn’t be talking to kids about what they THEMSELVES are thinking, but rather what their KIDS are asking. What are their concerns and what are they hearing which are causing those concerns for example and then address those accordingly.

Here are some Q&A guidelines on how to answer your curious little ones:

What is the Coronavirus?

The corona virus is a type of germ, a virus that can cause people to have runny noses or a cough. In some people it can cause more severe symptoms like trouble breathing. The corona virus is basically a name for a group of viruses and what you’re hearing about from family or friends is a new type of coronavirus which was recently discovered late last year.

Is there a cure for the Coronavirus?

No, there isn’t a cure for the coronavirus at the moment. It is very hard to find treatment for viruses because they are very good at hiding inside your body. However, there are a bunch of scientists now who are working very hard at finding a cure and coming up with a vaccine to prevent people from catching this virus.

Why do we wear masks?

We wear masks because it is a good way to prevent the spread of infection from one person to another.

Why are schools being cancelled?

The biggest reason for this is to protect everybody’s health because the coronavirus spreads very easily. It is also one way to prevent those who are sick from coming into contact with a huge group of people which happens a lot in schools.

Is it safe to go outside and play with other kids?

As Malaysia is currently undergoing a restriction of movement, unfortunately playing with other kids will have to wait. We need to remember that this virus spreads through hand contact and touch. So definitely no giving anyone high-5s or playing with friends for a while until it is safe!

Why can’t we go to the playground or to the mall?

First of all, it is to keep everyone safe because the coronavirus spreads on contact. Which is why you need to keep washing those hands and keeping clean. Just imagine how many hands touch the things in malls and at playgrounds! With the restriction of movement going on, this means we are not allowed to go anywhere unless absolutely necessary. Only one person is allowed to go out to buy daily things like food and groceries while the rest stay at home.

Will grandma and grandpa be okay?

The coronavirus does affect everybody and experts do know that it can affect those who are a little older. This is why we have to keep ourselves healthy and practice good hygiene at all times. It is best to keep your distance from grandpa and grandma if you are unwell because there is no way to tell how badly the virus would affect the family.

What about my younger brother and sister?

If both of you are healthy, work together! Help each other to remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds and to wash them frequently. Encourage each other to eat well and help by keeping the place clean so that nobody gets sick.

What happens if I get sick?

If you do get sick it is probably better not to be too close to others around you. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve caught COVID-19 and will be very, very sick, especially if you have not been anywhere near any COVID-19 patients. Tell your parents if you really feel sick and they will decide if you need to go see a doctor. Above all, rest and eat well so that you can recover quickly.

Remember: Age Appropriate

Here are some other options for your younger ones when words are simply too big for them!

Ultimately all of us want some element of control

So give your children some control. Ask them what they can do to control the virus from spreading. One way is to wash your hands really well! Show them how to do it properly, be their role models: “Look, mummy and daddy are going to wash our hands for 20 seconds. Now you do it too.”

Cough into your bent arm for example because coughing into your hands means everything you touch would contain your germs.

Stay away from sick people, and if anyone in the family is sick, all the more reason we should be staying at home. It is really teaching and talking to them about what is within our control to prevent viruses from spreading. And this is not JUST limited to coronaviruses, but other viruses as well such as influenza for example. Sow into them the habit of good personal hygiene so that your children know how to protect themselves – not only for this season, but also from future germs and viruses.

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