How to talk to your children about COVID-19
The Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAHMS) team at Sidra Medicine advise parents to talk to their children about COVID-19, and make them aware of the severity of the situation.
It is important that parents answer their children’s questions frankly to help them understand what is going around them which in turn will positively affect their physical and mental health.
We recommend parents take the following approach:
- Reassure your child that as their parent you will always ensure keeping them safe
- It is okay to let your child know you do not have all the answers, information is evolving, and you will share with them what they need to know when you have important new information to share.
- Let children know it is okay to have mixture of different feelings (anxiety, fear, worry, anger, even happiness for not having to go to school) at this time. Explain to them that this is natural, and that even adults feel this way.
- Talk with them about how they can reduce thoughts and feelings associated with anxiety if they have them, by talking with you (their parent) about this.
- Check-in often with your children.
Maintaining a safety routine:
- Practice how to cough into your elbow, how to wash hands the right way, and also practice not touching your face.
- Promote good health practices and explain why they are important.
- Involve your child in everyday activities that they can help with and feel confident about like helping to cook or learning a new skill.
- Help reduce panicking behaviors in children and prejudice/discrimination that have arisen during this time and reinforce care for others in appropriate ways.
- Use this as an opportunity to talk about how to help others and practice acts of kindness, especially if you know anyone who is self-quarantining, i.e. send them a meal through a meal delivery service, send them messages of encouragement to stay in touch.