Parents, grandparents and other trusted adults play an important role in helping children make sense of what they see and hear about COVID-19. Adults need to share information in a way that is honest, accurate and minimizes anxiety or fear.
Talking about COVID-19 with children will probably bring up some questions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepared this list of questions a child might ask and suggestions for parents’ answers.
What is COVID-19?
A. COVID-19 is the short name for a virus called coronavirus disease 2019. The capital letters ‘CO’ stand for corona, the capital letters ‘VI’ stand for virus, and the capital ‘D’ stands for disease. It’s a new type of coronavirus that we haven’t seen before. COVID-19 can be passed easily from one sick person to a healthy person by a cough, sneeze or spit. That’s why it’s important for us to stay home right now, wash our hands a lot and cover our coughs and sneezes.
Why can’t we visit grandma?
A. Sometimes, virus germs make older people like your grandparents sicker than younger people. For now, we can send a card or artwork, call on the phone or video chat with them. Don’t worry. They understand that we’re being extra careful to make sure that they don’t get sick. We’ll be able to go see them again when fewer people are getting sick from the new virus.
What will happen if I get sick?
A. You probably won’t get sick because you’re doing such a great job of staying home. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be OK, especially kids. If you got sick, we would give you medicine to make you feel better and make sure that you are getting lots of rest and plenty to drink. We would also need to be very careful to keep things that you touched clean.
What will happen if you get sick?
A. I probably won’t get sick because we’ve been staying home so much. If I did get sick, I would probably feel bad for a week or two. I might get a cough or have a fever. I would want to do my best to make sure that you didn’t catch the virus from me. So, I may need to stay in my room for a while, and we might need to be extra careful about how close we get to each other until I was feeling better. [Insert the name of another trusted adult] will take care of you if I get sick.
Check in with kids often to ask how they’re doing. Educate them about how their bodies fight disease and on the importance of good hygiene, such as effective handwashing. This pandemic also gives adults an opportunity to talk to kids about the importance of staying informed in an emergency and how to process what they hear.
Greg Neill, RiverStone Health Emergency Response manager, can be reached at 406-651-6407.
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