Dealing with Stress and Fear about COVID-19
With the saturation of media coverage and unavoidable conversations happening everywhere about the Corona Virus outbreak, it is understandable that our children (and some adults) may be experiencing anxiety and fear. While the situation is rapidly changing, ensuring you're armed with facts will help keep coronavirus conversations calm, considered, and constructive.
Be aware of your own behavior. It's important for parents and teachers to understand the effect their own behaviors and emotions can have on children. If you're visibly upset or react in a way that suggests you're fearful, they'll take their cues from you. Just remember to stick to what we know about the outbreak.
Tell them the facts at their developmental level. Be honest. Stay informed. Find out what it is that they’re afraid of and what they already know about it. Try to answer specific questions, even if those questions feel uncomfortable.
- “We’re going to do everything we can to stay healthy. We’re going to keep informed, and if we have other questions we don’t know the answer to, we will use reliable sources like the CDC to seek accurate information.”
- “Doctors around the world are working to find solutions and care for people that are already sick.”
Offer practical advice. Give students a sense of agency. For the time being the easiest way to reduce the risk of becoming affected by viruses of any sort (including the common cold) is to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, keep hands clean by washing them regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth. Use extra caution if you must be near anyone displaying symptoms such as a fever or a cough. These are easy habits for children to adopt and should help them feel as though they're able to exert some control over their circumstances. Use the opportunity to explain why it’s important to stay home if you feel sick.
Dealing with Emotions
- Children’s emotions feed off of the emotions of the adults in their lives.
- Remind them of what is in their power.
- Wash their hands.
- Cover sneezes and coughs.
- Seek help if worry is making you struggle.
- Bassi, Anna. How to have a panic-free conversation with your kids about the coronavirus.
- Beeson, Leigh. How to talk to your child about coronavirus.
- Parenting Playbook: Bullying and coronavirus.
- Mississippi Department of Health. Novel Coronavirus Outbreak.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the U.S.
- Mahtani, S. & O’Grady, S. Coronavirus live updates. The Washington Post, 2-5-2020.