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Stop a worry becoming catastrophic: how to talk to your kids about a crisis

Set the context

For children, particularly younger ones, concepts of time, place and distance are not very clear.
Explain that the images they are seeing or stories they have heard are, for the moment, from places far away from here, otherwise, all can seem immediate and frightening. Context and reassurance are crucial.

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Stop a worry becoming catastrophic: how to talk to your kids about a crisis

Stop a worry becoming catastrophic: how to talk to your kids about a crisis

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/02/stop-a-worry-becoming-catastrophic-how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-the-coronavirus

theguardian.com

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Key Ideas

Children and dramatic events

Parents often assume that their children are oblivious to world events or are too young to understand what it all means. But they live in the same world that we do: they hear and see the news and they overhear our conversations. And they talk.
There will soon be no avoiding having to talk to your kids about the new virus.

Set the context

For children, particularly younger ones, concepts of time, place and distance are not very clear.
Explain that the images they are seeing or stories they have heard are, for the moment, from places far away from here, otherwise, all can seem immediate and frightening. Context and reassurance are crucial.

How to talk about the new virus

... with your kids:

  • Choose a safe space and time and give them your full attention.
  • Check in with an open question about what they know and how they are feeling about the topic.
  • Let them lead the conversation with their questions.
  • Set a calm, reassuring tone and offer physical comfort.
  • Be honest but maintain appropriate boundaries and don't postpone the conversation.
  • Be honest about your emotions but let them know you will feel better soon.

Information you should share

... with your kids about the new virus:

  • Keep it simple and factual, and focus on positive messages and the possibility of recovery from the illness.
  • Explain all the hard work that is happening to protect them, all the doctors and nurses who are here to help.
  • Involve them in the planning activities at home and assign them jobs and roles.
  • Educate them about how our bodies react to viruses in general.

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  • Get on a schedule if you find it helpful, or refuse to feel guilty for lack of a schedule.
  • Set up many FaceTime and Zoom dates with your friends and your kid's friends, and grandparents.
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  • It is best to be honest when you have to talk about when a child will be going back to school or reschedule their birthday party when you don't know yourself.
  • You can say that some scientists think it would be a few months, but you don't really know yet. Then ask them how they feel about that and if they have questions. See what information you can find together.

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