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‘Let them express themselves:’ Experts share tips on discussing coronavirus with kids

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MILWAUKEE -- There are concerns not easy for any parent to hear from their child.

Ione Shepard

"My 8-year-old literally will, 'oh my god mom, mom.' She's freaking out," said parent Ione Shepard.

Young children asking new questions about if they or a loved one will contract coronavirus and what that would mean.

"What we try to do is let them express themselves first," said psychotherapist Deidre Kozlowski.

Therapists at R.E.A.C.H., Inc. Mental Health Clinic in Brown Deer say questions from children about coronavirus are best answered with sensitivity, reassurance and honesty.

"Sit them down and tell them it's like any other virus that's going around. Even the flu," said therapist Tina Pfannerstill. "There's always a chance it can get really bad, however, there's always also a cure that can be found."


Deidre Kozlowski

Some informational videos for kids, like this one made by BrainPOP, are also circulating around local classrooms, designed to put young minds at ease while keeping them informed.

Experts say to remind children that they can help by washing their hands. They say it is also good to let them know, if they are worried, to talk to an adult.

"Not to worry that that means everybody is going to get it," Pfannerstill said.

Also, remind children that illnesses like this have spread before and have been cured.

Tina Pfannerstill

"They'll be worried about something one minute, but then you know, you settle their minds and they'll be on to the next subject," said Pfannerstill.

To help kids stay engaged with cleanliness, remind them to sing a song -- like "Happy Birthday" or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" -- two times in a row while washing their hands with soap to make sure they are clean.

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