Talking to Kids about COVID-19

Talking to your kids about COVID-19 is a sensitive issue. Please continue to check this page for resources you can use to help your children deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Here are some tips from the CDC for Talking with Children about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Helping Children Cope with Disasters.

As public conversations around coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) increase, children may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Parents, family members, 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.

General principles for talking to children

Remain calm and reassuring.

  • Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.

Make yourself available to listen and to talk.

  • Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.

Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.

  • Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.

Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.

  • Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

Provide information that is honest and accurate.

  • Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
  • Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.

Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.

  • Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.
  • Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
  • Discuss any new actions that may be taken at school to help protect children and school staff.
    (e.g., increased hand-washing, cancellation of events or activities)
  • Get children into a hand-washing habit.
    • Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
    • If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and child care facilities.


Importance of coping with COVID fatigue

A concerning new trend sweeping the country may be contributing to our County’s recent spike in cases. Feeling exasperated by the quarantine and shutdowns, many residents have begun to experience “COVID Fatigue” (or “Caution Fatigue”), leading them to neglect safety precautions. In such cases social distancing requirements are ignored, face coverings rejected, and social gatherings become more common, leading to a sharp uptick in COVID-19 infections.

Fatigue or not, relaxing safety guidelines leads to a vicious cycle whereby cases and hospitalizations can rise, and perhaps lead to more social restrictions.

What we can do, says Dr. Kelley, is focus on some lifestyle habits that can alleviate our stress in a healthy way. Following are some ideas that Dr. Kelley and many other health experts suggest can help.

Exercise

Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, and stimulates the production of endorphins – the mood-elevating hormone. Find a local, low-traffic path in your area to get started on a run or walk, or consider working out at home to let some adrenaline out of your system. If nothing else, at least step outside to get at least five minutes of sunshine and fresh air each day.

Talking

Avoid repressing your discontent or unhappiness. Failure to communicate emotions can lead to feeling hopeless or a sense of losing control. Simply airing out your frustrations and discussing them with the right person can work to reduce the stress experienced during shutdown. It can be very helpful to be reminded we’re all in this together.

Be Mindful

Ground yourself in the present moment and mitigate the stress that often comes from projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. Take a few moments to meditate or sit quietly in a chair and focus on your breathing. No one is certain how long current conditions will last, but taking life day by day is a crucial step in taking control of your mental state.

Mindful Breathing

Something you can do throughout the day, anywhere you are, is some mindful breathing exercises whenever you’re feeling stressed. Inhale for a count of 4, hold it in for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. This focuses your brain on breathing, and allows oxygen you take in to go to your brain and core organs, reinvigorating your ability to cope.

Yawn and Stretch

Even if you’re not particular tired, reset your brain by taking a conscious moment to stand up, yawn and stretch a little. If you’re busy worrying about all of life’s pressures, you need a conscious stop to keep yourself from any catastrophic thinking.

For more information, please visit https://wp.sbcounty.gov/cao/countywire/?p=8404