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Helping Kids Cope When COVID-19 Hits Home

Children may expect others to periodically get a cold or even the flu. What happens to children, however, if they learn that a loved one has COVID-19?  Knowledge About the Virus Many families have made significant adjustments to their daily routines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending upon the age of your child, you may have explained that all of these changes, including social distancing, are how we can avoid getting a serious virus called COVID-19. Your child may even know, from you or from watching the news, that this virus can be deadly. Knowing that COVID-19 is serious can help children understand the reasons for changes in their daily activities, but it can also lead to them having more concerns about a loved one diagnosed with it. They may fear that they will catch it too! Talking With Your Children Even the youngest children will need some information about what is happening if a parent or someone else in the household is ill, since that person will be isolated from the family.  It’s generally best to talk with each child individually since age and personality may impact what you share and what questions might be asked. When talking with a child or teenager, try these tips if a caregiver is the one ill: think about whether or not your child would benefit from knowing that the person has COVID-19; when possible, wait to talk with your child until you have had a chance to think through how you want to explain the situation; let your child know that he or she has a support team (name them). If one person isn’t available, there are others who will step in as caregivers (this helps in case you, unfortunately, also get sick);  explain what you are doing to reduce the chances of others getting sick.  If your child is worried about becoming ill, you can share that kids don’t usually have serious symptoms even if they do get it; if you say that the loved one has COVID-19, add that lots of people are sick for a few weeks so your child doesn’t expect the person to be better in a day or two; for many young children, it’s okay to explain symptoms in general. For example,  “Mom has a fever and a cough.”  Other children may need more details or just need to know that the parent isn’t well; if the person is at home, explain how and why routines need to be changed for a while. “Grandpa has to stay in a private room to get better and to avoid giving us the virus.”; avoid giving overly optimistic, or pessimistic, descriptions of what’s happening; if a child asks detailed questions, and you don’t feel that you either know the answer or know how to explain it, it’s okay to say that you need to think about the question and will continue the discussion soon. Before and after your talk, monitor your child to see if your child’s behaviors or emotions are

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Helping Kids Cope When COVID-19 Hits Home 2020-04-29T20:53:36-04:00