How to Help Children and Adolescents Understand COVID-19

How to Help Children and Adolescents Understand COVID-19

COVID-19 has put a strain on everyone's lives, regardless of location, age, culture, or conditions. Since it has made its presence known in early 2020, we’ve consistently seen changes in day-to-day life, including how we work, how we spend time with our loved ones, and even how we conduct simple errands like doing our groceries or running to the drug store. 

We’ve seen and heard about how COVID-19 has affected professional ventures, corporations, as well as the global economy. But there has been little said about how it has impacted children and adolescents — the people who haven’t experienced life to its fullest before the onslaught of the pandemic. 

But this is a topic worth discussing, considering reports of children falling behind on speech development and understanding, hindered in terms of growth and development, and increasingly anxious about something that they don’t understand. This is acknowledged by the director of the Pan American Health Organization, who said that COVID-19 has indirect consequences on children’s development and jeopardizes their chance at a bright future. 

Unlike adults who have a solid and informed understanding of the current global crisis, children and adolescents may not be as aware. But parents should make sure that their kids hear reliable facts and information about COVID-19 and help them understand the changes that have been happening around them. 

We round up some tips on how to talk to your child about COVID-19. 

1. Find out what they already know

Especially if your kids have gone back to school to attend classes on campus, they may have heard some information on COVID-19. Ask questions to ascertain what initial impressions they have about the pandemic. Listen intently and follow their lead in the conversation. 

2. Provide comfort

This global crisis is hard on everyone — especially your children. Make sure that throughout your conversation, you’re focused on helping them feel safe. Speak calmly and reassuringly, and answer their questions confidently. You can visit the CDC website for reliable and up-to-date information about COVID-19. 

3. Be honest

While it’s important to give your kids assurance that things will get better, being honest is crucial in helping them understand the pandemic. You may want to recommend some age-appropriate news outlets adolescents can refer to for news about COVID-19 to minimize the risk of them consuming false information.

4. Allow them to feel in control

All the news about COVID-19 may have overwhelmed your kids, but you should let them know that they have control when it comes to preventing infection. Teach them to comply with the basic health protocols, such as: 

  • Washing their hands 
  • Wearing a mask 
  • Maintaining a safe distance from friends at school 

If you deem it appropriate for your child’s age, you should also talk to them about COVID-19 vaccines and how they protect against the virus. Most importantly, let your kids know that pandemic stress is normal and encourage them to build resilience despite these trying times.

5. Check in often

Talking to your kids about COVID-19 is not a one-time event. Keep the conversation going and check in with them every so often. Make it a point to ask how they’re feeling about the current situation and what you can do to help relieve their fears or stress.

Keeping Your Child Informed

The COVID-19 pandemic is hard on us adults, but it might be even more stressful for your kids. As parents, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our children get the right information and understand the global crisis in a way that’s relevant for their age. Keeping your kids informed will help alleviate their worries and motivate them to do their part in curbing the spread of the virus.

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