Talking to children and young people about coronavirus

Talking with children and young people about coronavirus

In light of the current and developing situation and media coverage, it is likely that some children and young people will be concerned and anxious. This is reasonable, they will never have experienced something like this before and do not have the experience to know what may happen.

Make your conversation factual, but adjust the amount and detail as appropriate to the age and development of your child. For older and more mature young people it may be helpful to guide them to the official websites and reliable news sources and share these with them to inform discussions.

  • Allow your child to ask questions – give them space to do this and providing an answer can help manage some worries. It is ok to say you don’t know, at the moment there are many questions about coronavirus we don’t have the answers to.
  • Choose a good time for a discussion with the child when they are happy to talk and when you are not having to immediately rush onto other things.
  • Ask them to share what they know already. You will then know where to start the conversation.
  • Younger children might understand a cartoon or picture more than a verbal explanation. Let them draw their ideas for you, if helpful.
  • If they share worries or fears, show them that you understand how they are feeling. Don’t try to dismiss or minimise their fears.
  • Keep to the facts and keep the conversation positive and supportive. Tell them that doctors and scientists are working on the treatments. Talk about what they can do to have some control, for example focusing on good handwashing, using tissues etc.
  • Make it clear that they can talk further with you if they have more questions or need more reassurance, and check in with them after a while to see how things are going.
  • Try to manage your own worries. We can all feel anxious in times of uncertainty. Ensure you have other adults to talk to and activities you find calming.
  • Aim to end the conversations with a comment, topic or activity that is calming and reassuring.