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‘Worrying about safety is the role of the adults:’ How to talk to your kids about COVID-19

MILWAUKEE — With masks, ventilators, and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday, March 23 at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe. Warning that the outbreak continues to accelerate, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action. This, with parents finding themselves wondering how to speak with their children about the coronavirus.

For adults, having a serious conversation with a child of any age can be challenging.

Family

“Some things that are helpful in managing anxiety in kids is to find ways to help your kiddo feel in control,” said Allison Allmon-Dixson, a doctor who specializes in pediatric psychology with Gundersen Health System.

Allison Allmon-Dixson

Allison Allmon-Dixson

Health experts with Gundersen Health System said parents should know they’re not alone in this challenge.

“One thing that would be helpful to talk to children about would be to give them specific ways they can help to reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” said Allmon-Dixson.

When it comes to young children, you should keep your directions and explanations simple.

“Like handwashing, and maintaining their personal space,” said Allmon-Dixson.

Something else that can help to calm kids’ anxiety is reminding them that others are going through this, too.

Children

“It’s also helpful to point out things that everyone else is doing in order to help keep people healthy, like the doctors, social distancing, canceling school, those types of things,” said Allmon-Dixson.

Being stuck at home is hard for all of us, especially children, so it can help to realize everyone else is going through the same thing.

“And then finally, helping to remind your kids that worrying about safety is the role of the adults and caregivers in their home, and it’s their job to do the things that they have control over like washing their hands and following adult directions,”said Allmon-Dixson.

Children

CLICK HERE for more on speaking to your kids about the coronavirus.

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