Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus

Dear Families,

We are closely monitoring the status of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We know this is a stressful time and are committed to remaining open and available for you for neuropsychological evaluations, psychotherapy, consultations, and coaching based on ongoing guidelines provided by the CDC. While we are continuing to see clients in the office, we have also expanded our services to provide teletherapy to provide continuum of care. Please see our recent news post (COVID-19 Office Policy Update) regarding the precautionary measures we have taken to keep our clients and staff in good health.

Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus

As parents ourselves, we are aware of the added stressors families are facing in this evolving landscape with COVID-19 being considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the recent school closures. With information and recommendations changing so rapidly, it can feel overwhelming to navigate this new terrain and provide stability to our children. To help during this challenging time, consider the following recommendations:

Communication Strategies with Children about COVID-19

  • Manage your own anxiety. Although it is understandable that you as a parent are feeling uncertainty during this time set an intention to remain calm as you have discussions with your child(ren). Use self-care during this time to help build-up your own emotional reserve.
  • Provide Information. Answer any questions your children may have honestly and in a way they will understand. While you may not have all the answers, keeping communication open with your child is essential and can alleviate feelings of anxiety. At the same time, don’t volunteer too much information as that can feel overwhelming, especially to younger children.
  • Demystify Concerns. Encourage your child(ren) to share information they may have heard about the coronavirus with you and to share their feelings about it. Correct any misinformation they have heard, also in a way that they can understand.
  • Provide Reassurance. Reassure your child that the risk of COVID-19 infection still remains low (e.g., the flu is much more common) and remind them that children seem to be having milder symptoms.
  • Set Boundaries. Limit children’s exposure to the news. At the same time, try and purposely incorporate other topics into your family’s conversation to expand the range of conversation in your family life.
  • Follow routines. Establish a routine for each child in your house based on their developmental level. As schools start to implement learning from home routines, set up structured times for learning, snack, play, and outside time.

The following stress management tips can be helpful for both parents and children:

Stress Management Techniques:

  • Moving your body is key for managing stress and anxiety. Schedule time to move your body by going for a walk, enjoying a bike ride, or trying a virtual exercise class.
  • Being Outside. Encourage your children to go outside daily. Whether they play basketball, create fairy houses, or help with yard work, being outside can help calm the brain and the overactive limbic system.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Taking deep breaths helps calm the frantic part of your brain. One technique is breathing in for the count of 4, holding your breath for 7, and exhaling for 8. Do this 3 or 4 times and notice the change in your body. Alternatively, try using a grounding technique where you look for 5 things you see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can taste, and 1 thing in the present moment that you are grateful for.  Focusing on your current senses helps shift your focus to what may happen in the future to what is happening now.
  • Sleep Hygiene. Ensure that you and your child are getting enough rest. During this time of school closures it is easy to fall in the habit where children stay up later and sleep in. Try and maintain a regular routine of sleep habits to help with both physical and mental health.
  • Stay Connected. During this time of social distancing, maintain social connections with friends and relatives through telephone calls, FaceTime and Skype.



Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus

Key Facts

Helping Children Cope with Emergencies

Managing Anxiety and Stress