Young children may not understand what is happening in the world right now but they probably are aware that something unusual is going on. Even the smallest children can sense when their parents are upset, worried, or anxious.
For one thing, they know that life is not going on like normal. They aren’t in preschool or daycare. One or both of their parents may be working from home. And normal visits with other people including neighbors and family members have slowed or stopped altogether.
Toddlers especially are naturally curious. In all likelihood, they probably already have started asking questions. A lot of questions. So what can we tell our kids about the COVID-19 virus without worrying them?
The first thing we can do is reassure our kids that they are safe. Children take their emotional cues from their parents. So it’s important that you express reassurance in both your words and your tone.
Try saying something like, “You don’t need to worry because we are perfectly safe. Right now, doctors and other smart people are working very hard to keep everybody healthy. Fortunately, we already know how to keep safe from germs.”
Talk about Hand Washing
Experts say the two best things you can do to keep safe from COVID-19 is social distancing and frequent hand washing. Explain to your kids that washing hands with soap and water and doing an extra good job of it can help keep them safe from germs — even after the crisis has ended.
Then show them how to wash their hands properly for at least 20 seconds. Try to make it fun by singing or humming the “Happy Birthday” song to illustrate the proper length of time.
Focusing on kids can be reassuring to parents as well. Take advantage of this unscheduled “family time” to play games, share stories, watch shows, and appreciate your time together.