COVID-19 is in the news and on everyone’s mind. Our children, unfortunately, are not likely an exception. Even when children are shielded from media, peers, siblings, and overheard conversations can give children just enough information to bring forth concern. Children are also incredibly intuitive to their family’s emotions and will pick up on any fear and anxiety their parents or extended family may be feeling.
So what is the best approach to sharing when it comes to children and coronavirus?
Shielding vs. Communicating
With small children, shielding them from troubling information is ideal. Children in early childhood should be kept from the news if possible. This includes making an effort to talk about coronavirus only when they are not present and not exposing them to televised news. Children in young grades, such as first through third, would also ideally be shielded, but exposure to older children on playgrounds or siblings at home means this is less likely to be possible.
When it becomes apparent that the child has knowledge about the virus, then age-appropriate communication can begin, with the foremost focus being to help the child feel safe and more secure. It’s important to communicate once you know a child has some, even very limited, knowledge of the virus to be sure that they do not awfulize the small amount of information they have in the absence of a parent giving age-appropriate guidance.