As an educator, I felt compelled to write this post and share with you how to explain COVID-19 to young children, without frightening them. In fact, this is a way to empower them.
Now I am not fearful of this coronavirus. I will take all precautions suggested by experts, I will do my part to not spread this virus, but I will not be afraid. And I don’t want my children to be afraid either.
So how do we explain something that looks like a horror movie on the news to our precious little children in a way that will not terrify?
I do believe it is important to tell our children about this virus. News about it is absolutely everywhere and children are very observant. They will hear it on the radio, see a glimpse on a TV, or overhear a conversation. Children have miraculous hearing – as soon as our voice goes to a whisper, their spidey senses start tingling!
When we need to tell our little ones anything important, I like to do it in 3 parts:
- State the facts
- State why it is a problem/concern
- State what can be done and give our children the feeling of control
Here is how I explained the coronavirus COVID-19 to my children:
First of all, I explained to my kids exactly what this virus is. I explained that it is a flu-like virus. The symptoms are symptoms that almost all little ones have had at one time or another: a cough and a fever. Once children know what exactly the virus entails, it takes so much of the wonder and worry away.
The second thing I explain is why this is such a big deal. With major sports teams delaying seasons, and concerts and events being cancelled, it is clear to little ones that this virus is serious. It is important to be honest and explain why this is, in a way that will be reassuring and make sense. If we leave this part out, children will not feel as though we are being honest and will not feel assured and at ease.
I told my little ones that this virus spreads from person to person very easily. And it has been spreading from person to person almost all over the world. We don’t usually see viruses that do this. Like all bad bugs, it can be dangerous for certain groups of people. We need to protect those who are elderly or those who already have a very bad illness. As a society we need to work together to keep everyone healthy and safe. We need to be helpers.
Finally, we need to empower our children and make sure they feel as though they have control over this virus. I explain to my children that this virus can be managed with good hygiene, so washing our hands diligently and trying not to touch our face is all we need to do. For little ones, it is a great idea to finish this chat off with a good old fashioned hand washing lesson.
Help your little one wash their hands by singing “Happy Birthday” two times. Teach them to wash in between their fingers, under their nails, and their wrists as well.
If you are looking for a really fun way to teach this skill, I have a great handwashing activity that uses ice and washable markers. Kids love it!
It is also important to add some calm and quiet to your days. With so much busyness and chaos surrounding our homes, it is important our home is a safe haven for our little ones. Here are some wonderful Calming Quiet Time Activities you can add into your day: Calming Activities for Kids
My hope is that this post empowers you to have this conversation with your little ones. I want to be the one my kids turn to with their questions and concerns. By having these tough conversations in a thoughtful way I hope I will be that person for them.
You can do it my friends! Go talk to those little ones about COVID-19. Put their worries to rest, and help to keep them healthy.
Over the next few days I will continue to share with you posts on this topic. I will share some Quiet Time Activities you can do right now with supplies you have at home and how to structure your day so children are calm and happy. Please subscribe so you don’t miss it.
Keep smiling and spreading your warmth, love and positivity! If you have any questions I am only and email away.