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Children’s Mental Health and How to Talk about COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting children in many of the same ways as it is impacting adults. Be mindful of your children’s mental health by talking with them often.
Welcome their questions. With so much up in the air, kids are bound to have questions they might not be asking. Strive to help children be heard and get fact-based information that is likely more reassuring than what they’re hearing from their friends or on the news.
Don’t avoid questions you can’t answer. Given how much uncertainty there is, try to be comfortable saying “I don’t know.”
Set the tone. Look at these conversations as an opportunity not just to convey the facts but set the emotional tone.
Be developmentally appropriate. Don’t volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming. Instead, try to answer your child’s questions honestly and clearly. It’s okay if you can’t answer everything; being available to your child is what matters.
Take your cues from your child. Invite your child to tell you anything they may have heard about the coronavirus, and how they feel.
Deal with your own anxiety. If you’ve just learned news that’s upsetting, or that you worry will upset your child, take some time to calm down before trying to have a conversation or answer your child’s questions.
Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. An important way to reassure kids is to emphasize the safety precautions that you, and others around you, are taking.