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Talking to Children About Coronavirus

Have your children asked about COVID-19? These three tips can go a long way.

Children are naturally scared of the unknown—especially a mysterious illness like the coronavirus. This is normal. But now, we’ve got many adults (and the stock market) spooked about the coronavirus (COVID-19), which is alarming because we need to help our children continue to be smart and feel safe in the world.

Of course, it’s reasonable to be concerned, but for the vast majority of people—children included—there isn’t yet a reason to be in full panic mode, especially if they continue good hygiene habits and stay a safe distance away (6 feet) from others. But to help adults (parents, teachers) have the “coronavirus talk” with their children, I recommend focusing on these three aspects of the current outbreak:

  1. Facts. Coronavirus isn’t a new virus, but the new strain (COVID-19) doesn’t yet have a cure, which is why it’s problematic. The good news is that most people who get this virus will recover fully, but it’s difficult for some people, including those who are elderly or have other health problems already. Currently, most cases of COVID-19 are in China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy, but there are going to be more cases of it in the United States, too. The symptoms of this new coronavirus are: fever, cough, and shortness of breath (John LaPook, M.D., CBS Sunday Morning 3/1/2020). Currently, vaccines are being developed to protect against COVID-19, but this will take time to ensure their safety and effectiveness.
  2. Healthy Hygiene. Since this respiratory virus is highly contagious, there are certain things that medical professionals recommend we continue to do daily: A) Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap frequently, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, or coughing; B) Avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing, sneezing or feeling sick (i.e., don’t touch them), and C) Stay home if you are sick, as not to infect anyone else (CDC, 2020). Additional common-sense approaches include giving your children their regular vitamins, especially with any immune-boosting properties such as vitamin C.
  3. Preparedness. Some locations in the United States may have what we call “community outbreaks,” which means it may be necessary to close schools or certain locations to stop the spread of this illness. If this happens, it is a good idea to have projects at home you can do and families to stock the house full of supplies (for example, food, water, extra prescriptions, and personal care items). I recommend including your child in this project and partnering together to come up with a plan in case something like this happens.


CBS Sunday Morning (2020, March 1st). Video Clip here:



Coronavirus Worldometer

Surgeon General