The following information came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019 webpage. It has been edited for space, style and clarity. More resources are available at indexjournal.com.
As public conversations about the novel coronavirus pandemic increase, children might worry that about themselves, family members and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Parents, school staff and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate and minimizes anxiety or fear. CDC has created guidance to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
- Remain calm and reassuring.
- Make yourself available to listen and talk.
- Avoid language that might blame others or lead to stigma.
- Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio or online.
- Provide information that is honest and accurate.
- Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
Facts about COVID-19 for discussions with children
Try to keep information simple and remind them that health and school officials are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.
What is COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is short for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it.
- Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be OK, especially kids, but some people might get pretty sick.
- Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.
What can I do so that I don’t get COVID-19?
You can practice healthy habits at home, school and play to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses:
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it in the trash right away.
- Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose and eyes. This will help keep germs out of your body.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Follow these five steps: wet, lather (make bubbles), scrub (rub together), rinse and dry. You can sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
- If you don’t have soap and water, have an adult help you use a special hand cleaner.
- Keep things clean. Older children can help adults at home and school clean the things we touch the most, such as desks, doorknobs, light switches and remote controls.
- If you feel sick, stay home. Just like you don’t want to get other people’s germs in your body, other people don’t want to get your germs either.
What happens if you get sick with COVID-19?
- COVID-19 can look different in different people. For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems. From what doctors have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While a lot of adults get sick, most adults get better.
- If you do get sick, it doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. People can get sick from all kinds of germs. What’s important to remember is that if you do get sick, the adults at home and school will help get you any help that you need.
- If you suspect your child may have COVID-19, call the healthcare facility to let them know before you bring your child in to see them.