Children & COVID-19

How to Explain COVID-19 to Children

Practical Advice for Navigating through the Coronavirus Outbreak with your Children

This is a challenging time and parents are facing additional concerns of how to explain COVID-19 along with the reality of school closures and terms such as ‘social distancing.’  You are not alone in this struggle. We worship the God who created the universe and He is never surprised by difficult times, anxiety, or viruses.

We hope the following information will help you and your child navigate through this difficult time together, without losing your peace.

  • Communicate with your children. 

There is a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 that your children may encounter. It is helpful to remind your children that you are available to talk if they have questions or concerns.  Keep conversations age-appropriate. Try to answer questions without adding more information and statistics than they need or may understand.  The main concern most children have is “who will care for me?”  Try to ensure any conversation on COVID-19 includes the message that they will be cared for and that you are doing everything you can to protect them.  It is okay to tell your children that you do not know the answer to a question but will look for more information.

  • Explain any new vocabulary and sights they may see.  Children notice people wearing masks, empty store shelves, and cancelled activities.  Try to explain in developmentally appropriate terms what is happening and why.  Remind them that you will take care of their needs.
  • Be practical and keep a positive attitude. Remind them that in this time when so many things are beyond our control, there are many actions we can take to try and reduce the spread of the virus.  Parents who model a positive attitude and acceptance of the social distancing requirements, children will absorb a “can-do” mentality that will help them accept these new realities and any future challenges.
  1. Teach your children proper hand washing technique making it fun with ‘silly’ songs to meet the 20-second time recommendations.  Model good hand hygiene.
  2. Remind them to avoid touching their face.
  3. Explain how social distancing (school closures, event closures, etc.) can help us fight this virus together. Model your own social distancing with a positive attitude.
  • Stay busy. With many children’s activities reduced or stopped, it is important to keep young minds and bodies active. This is a great time to bring out board games, puzzles, and play in the back garden.
  • Try and keep life as “normal” as possible.  Keep daily routines that include time for academic activities, physical activity, and play time.
  • Create new ways to maintain a sense of community.  Write letters or draw pictures for grandparents or to send to nursing homes.  Call or video call friends and relatives.  Include children in church meetings/services by whatever media is used i.e. zoom, YouTube etc.  If you are not able to join these meetings hold your own church service in your homes with just your family.
  • Maintain your own emotional resilience. Children are generally not more emotionally resilient than their caregivers.  Take time to breathe, pray, listen to music, and support each other. Children learn emotional resilience from watching calm parents modelling those skills. Let your children “catch you in the act” of calming yourself.
  • Remember what is important. COVID-19 may temporarily take away our events, shut down our schools, and postpone our work, but it cannot steal our family, the Church, our community, or our joy. Help your children remember the importance of faith, love, and family during this stressful time. Those lessons will outlast these temporary challenges.

 

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;” (Isaiah 43:1-3).