How to talk to your children about coronavirus and social distancing

Tracking Coronavirus

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — One child and family therapist says she’s seeing families she’s never seen before, through her computer, as more and more people are feeling uneasy about their health and current situation.

No doubt your school-age child has heard of coronavirus, but what parents are choosing to tell children about why they’re doing schoolwork from home and not playing with their friends varies.

“They could have some very unrealistic fears that we want to put in perspective,” Jewish Family Services child and family therapist Kerry Scott said.

Scott said it’s important to be up front with children about the dangers of COVID-19 at age-appropriate levels.

But reinforce that your family is doing everything to keep them and others safe and doctors are caring for those who become ill. Also look for signs of your child acting out or becoming more withdrawn.

“It’s important to approach all that with some empathy as a parent and say, ‘What is my child’s behavior trying to tell me? Is my child frustrated? Is my child scared?’” Scott said.

Scott said she encourages children to talk about their feelings, and parents should validate their concerns.

“If they can share what their fears are, what their anxieties are, what their worries are, it is much easier for them to handle those emotions,” she said.

As parents try to manage working from home, aiding children with school work, and getting in some fun and exercise, establishing a routine can create a new sense of normalcy for everyone.

No one knows for sure how long social distancing will last, and how many events or milestones like birthdays might have to be altered.

Scott said just stress to kids this isn’t permanent.

“I get it you are really frustrated right now that you aren’t able to play with your friends, but you know what? It’s not going to be like this forever,” Scott said to tell children.

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