Talking to kids about Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
During any crisis situation, it is natural to wonder
what to say or how much to share with your children. Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Family Health
& Wellness program has a few general tips for parents to help these
conversations go smoothly. Our children can be anxious or worried considering
all the recent changes to their ordinary routines. You can ease some of their
stress by acknowledging some level of concern, without causing panic, and explaining
how these changes help keep your family safe and healthy. To help kids cope
with their anxiety, we must be ready to give them accurate, age-appropriate information
without causing undue alarm. Here are some practical tips followed by some
resources to help make your conversation a little easier.
General Principles for Talking to Kids*
calm and reassuring
. Children react to both what you say and
how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with
them and with others.
yourself available to listen and to talk
. Make time to talk. Be
sure they know they can come to you when they have questions.
attention to what they see or hear on television, radio, or online.
reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on
one topic can lead to anxiety.
honest and accurate information
. Give children
information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental
level of the child. Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the
internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccuracies.
children that everyday actions can reduce the spread of germs
Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing, sneezing, or sick.
Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the
tissue into the trash.
any new actions that may be taken at home to help protect children and loved
ones around them (
like increased handwashing, cancellation
of activities, etc.).
children into a handwashing habit
. Teach them to wash
their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after
blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before
eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not available, teach them to
use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol.
Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing
parents of young children, the Zero to Three website offers excellent tips on
how to answer your child’s questions in an age-appropriate manner. Visit their
for Families: Coronavirus
more resources on Covid-19 (Coronavirus) information check out these links:
FAQ’s Coronavirus & Children
for Encouraging Handwashing with Kids
to Prevent Illness & Protect Others
recommendations on keeping your home safe
Stress & Anxiety
Care of Emotional Health
Street in Communities - Staying Healthy
to Read Information on COVID-19
for kids from NPR