How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus
We have some very informed kids out there. They have constant access to media through their phones and ipads. News programs are on in the background. Newspaper headlines are at the grocery store. The radio plays updates.
Kids have heard about Coronavirus.
Usually, the first kind of response among elementary school students is to joke about it. When kids are anxious, and when they don't understand something, they usually react with jokes, exaggeration, and sometimes, even insults.
They want to know more, but how much more is necessary?
First of all, there is a great video that you can watch with your kids. Brainpop is a subscription service, but this video has been released free of charge. Sit and watch it with your child, and talk about it.
Second, continue to encourage handwashing. Elementary students understand, "Don't pick your nose. Don't bite your nails. Wash your hands. Sneeze into your sleeve."
Be aware of any culturally insensitive comments that may be circulating. While the source is in Asia, Coronavirus has become a global concern. Address comments that are derogatory to a culture or ethnic group. This could have started anywhere.
Finally, let them know that you are there to talk. Encourage them to speak to you to get information together, rather than from their friends and social media. Let them know that as you learn more information, you will share with them as appropriate.
Elementary aged students respect when adults are honest. They do not need to know everything, and they don't need to carry the burden of the planet, but if they feel informed, and they feel like adults can be trusted, they feel in control.