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Mom and Child Handwashing

How to Talk to Your Child About Coronavirus

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As talk of the coronavirus grows, it is possible that your child will hear about it through the media, their school or friends. Until the outbreak is contained, citizens are being prompted to prepare for school and work closures.

Parents should be mindful that this can seem a bit scary for kids. Here are a few ways to prepare them and ease their anxiety.

Talk to your children

Your child has most likely heard of coronavirus, but you want to ensure that the information they are getting is accurate and age-appropriate.

The best way to approach the topic is by using (AIR): Ask, Inform and Reassure.

  • Ask: Ask what the child already knows and if they have any concerns or fears related to the virus.
  • Inform: Parents should be honest, but deliver the content in a way that is calming and understandable for the child. The message could be framed as a positive to ease your child’s mind. Some good phrases that children can understand are, “We all get sick from time to time, but that’s why we go to the doctor to get medicine,” or “If you do get sick, you will stay home so that mom/dad/grandma/etc. can make sure you get well.”
  • Reassure: Make sure your child feels at ease about the situation and explain to them that most people don’t get sick, and of those, not every case is serious. It is good to remind them that doctors, scientists and other leaders are hard at work to prevent the virus and are there to take care of them if they do get sick. ­

Teach your children how to properly wash their hands

Coronavirus is spread via droplets that could get into your child’s nose or mouth. Schools are a petri-dish for bacteria, but proper hand hygiene is the best way to ward off germs. The easiest way for your child to remember how to properly wash hands, is by telling them to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, or count to 20, while scrubbing hands thoroughly with soap and clean water. They should wash their hands regularly after playing with others, touching commonly used surfaces, before and after eating and after going to the restroom.

Learn about their school’s protocols

Just like your child’s school has a plan in place for natural disasters, it will most likely have one for infectious disease outbreaks. Take time to familiarize yourself with the protocol and begin organizing options for your child in the event that they are required to stay home. It’s important to frame it as a positive and maintain routine as much as possible to avoid confusion or fear. Tele-schooling is an option for some students, but some kids could warrant supplemental activities to mediate the cabin fever. For some great activities to keep your children occupied and stimulated, check out these options.

It is also important to let your child’s school know of recent travel activity to prevent any possible contagious interactions amongst students.

Stock up on common household items

Many grocery stores across the United States are experiencing a shortage of basic items. If you are concerned about the availability of your child’s favorite items near you, consider stocking up on nonperishable groceries including crackers, canned goods, boxed macaroni and cheese, frozen foods, trail mix and bottled water. For more healthy food options to stock up on, click here.

Also, make sure you have all of the medicine cabinet essentials like toilet paper, bandages, cough drops, ice packs and tissues to have on hand in case you or your child is quarantined. Need help building your at-home first aid kit? We’ve got you covered!

The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.

If you or your child think you could be experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, call our free 24/7 nurse care line Ochsner on Call, or see a provider from home with an Ochsner Anywhere Care virtual visit. 

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