Tips for Talking to Kids about COVID-19
Published on 3/17/20
As public conversations around coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) increase, children may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Parents, family members, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear.
The CDC has created guidance to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
General Principles for Talking with Children
Remain calm and reassuring.
Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.
Provide information that is honest and accurate.
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 inaccurate information.
Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.
Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
Get 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 alcohol, especially in schools and childcare facilities.
Facts about COVID-19 for Discussions with Children
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the short name for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it.
Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be ok, especially kids, but some people might get pretty sick.
Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.
What can I do so that I don’t get COVID-19?
What happens if you get sick with COVID-19?
COVID-19 can look different in different people. For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems. From what doctors have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While a lot of adults get sick, most adults get better.
If you do get sick, it doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. People can get sick from all kinds of germs. What’s important to remember is that if you do get sick, the adults at home and school will help get you any help that you need.
If you suspect your child may have COVID-19, call the healthcare facility to let them know before you bring your child in to see them.