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Talking With Your Kids About COVID-19

talking with your kids about COVID-19

Each generation has had challenging events; the 9/11 attacks in NY; hurricanes Katrina and Rita; world wars, global conflicts, and school shootings. Quite often, these events have seemed far away if they didn’t affect our specific community directly, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and we find ourselves in the same predicament as our global neighbors.  Whether children are living in Madrid, Wuhan, New York City or East Stroudsburg, PA, they are seeing images, overhearing adult conversations, listening to the news and paying attention, even though they may not understand completely what’s going on.  A good friend of mine calls her kids “those tiny humans” to remind herself that they are a smaller version of the grownup model. They feel anger, sadness, miss their friends and have anxiety; even infants can sense when things are not quite right. It’s important that we find a way to be truth-tellers to these young hearts and minds when talking to them about current events.

Wanting to know the truth doesn’t begin when kids become older— even when they’re young, they ask question after question until they are satisfied with the answers. We can relay the truth in a way that calms their concerns and helps them right their world.

I’m part of the generation that grew up with Mr. Rogers. His reassuring voice, coupled with truth, helped hundreds of thousands of kids get through some rough times like divorce; the assassination of Robert Kennedy; the Challenger disaster; the Atlanta child murders and many other distressing situations. Here’s how he did it:

  1. Mr. Rogers always kept the information age-appropriate and he used words kids could understand.
  2. He never ever dismissed what kids were feeling. He affirmed sadness, anger, confusion and let kids know that it was okay and that adults feel the same things at times.
  3. Mr, Rogers never lied to children—everything about him exuded integrity and he always stuck to the facts.
  4. Mr. Rogers’ tone of voice was measured and calm. He was careful about what he said and how he said it.
  5. Even in the midst of crisis, Mr. Rogers taught kids to look for the good and to celebrate the moments of joy.
  6. When there were guests on his show, Mr. Rogers modeled neighborly behavior because he understood that kids watch adults more than they listen to adults.

We’ve been given a great role model in Fred Rogers, so there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Here a few ideas gleaned from him that might help with the hard conversations around this global pandemic.

Tips For Talking to Your Kids About COVID-19

  • Gather the facts about COVID-19. Make sure you are using reliable sources and truthful information. Consider the World Health Organization to get a global view of the situation.  You might also find this advice about talking with your kids from the CDC helpful.
  • Wait to talk with your kids about COVID-19 until your emotions are in check.  Scary facts delivered when you are frightened or stressed is counterproductive. 
  • Let them know how people get the virus and use this as a teachable moment about the importance of social distancing and handwashing. Help them sing songs while they wash their hands -- this might help them feel like they have some control over their individual health while having a bit of fun.
  • Help them to understand that while this pandemic might last for a while, it won’t last forever and that they’ll come through it. Transmit a sense of hope for their future.
  • “I don’t know but I will find out” is an acceptable answer to any questions kids might have. Don’t put pressure on yourself to know everything. Like many difficult situations, this pandemic is a fluid situation and as things change, the information will, too.

As the adult, I want you to have hope that you’ll get through this, too. It might be tough but so are you.  I want to end with a couple of my favorite quotes. I don’t believe these are some feeble platitudes but rather helpful reminders that storms pass.

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path. “ ~Anonymous

“Just think of all the times you thought you couldn’t get through it, but you did, The proof? You’re still here,” ~Anonymous (Pinterest)

If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, CESI is here to help. Our counselors are available to assist if you are experiencing job loss, temporary loss of income or financial hardship during this time. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.


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