The new coronavirus is everywhere on the news and has definitely changed our lives through quarantine and restrictions all over the world. Schools have closed, so it’s quite obvious that children have heard about this virus as well, and they have all sorts of questions for their parents.
So it’s important to answer these questions and reassure them that everything will be alright, but it’s also important to give them the correct information. In case you as an adult have questions or need to learn more about this virus, make sure to get the information from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The World Health Organization (WHO).
Common Questions Children May Have about Coronavirus Symptoms and How To Answer Them
Children have elaborate imaginations and they can think of all sorts of scenarios. So as a parent you need to answer their questions instead of not talking about this topic at all, but you also should not provide too much information in order to not create panic.
Q: What is this coronavirus?
A: The new coronavirus is a germ that can make people feel sick. Do you remember that flu that got you and your classmates sick? This is something similar. It makes some people feel a bit sick, and they get a fever and a cough. For some people, this cough gets more complicated and makes it difficult to breathe.
Q: How do you get the virus?
A: This virus spreads just like the flu or a cold. If someone is sick and sneezes or coughs, that person will send germs into the air. These germs can travel for up to six feet, and others can breathe them or get them on their hands. That’s why during this period it’s important to stay at least six feet apart from others and to avoid going to school or to a crowded place.
If you touch someone who is sick or touch a surface where someone coughed or sneezed, you will get the germs on your hands. Then, if you put your hand in your mouth or nose, or touch your eyes, the germs will get inside your body and make you sick as well. This is why it is important to wash your hands with water and soap as often as possible and to not touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
If you somehow get sick, it is important to not spread the germs to other people, so make sure to sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow (and then make sure to throw the tissue away or put the clothes in the washing machine). Also wash your hands after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose, before eating and after going to the toilet. You need to do this for at least 20 seconds, so count down slowly to 20 or sing “Happy Birthday” three times.
Q: Can you die from the new coronavirus?
A: Most people that get this virus will not die. The doctors are working hard to take care of sick people and make sure they get healthy. What’s important is that you (the child) keep on studying and attend the online classes, keep on playing and relaxing inside the home, and do not worry about the virus.
Be A Positive Example for Them
So tell your children that this virus should be taken very seriously, but don’t fill up their minds with negative thoughts. Even though you may be concerned yourself, try to be calm when talking about this topic. The children will look up to you and will copy your attitude (whether that is a calm one or a panicked one). Think of when you are travelling on airplane; if you see a terrified flight attendant, you will get panicked as well. But if the flight attendant is calm and smiling, you will remain calm as well.
Limit News Exposure
Reading the news is important to stay informed about new cases and restrictions, but they are sometimes too violent and negative for children. So try to limit their exposure to news on the TV. Watch the news yourself after the children are sleeping, or read them online while the TV is playing a positive show for the young ones.
Even though the kids will ask the same questions over and over again, it’s quite normal. They face a new situation and they want to be reassured that things will be ok. Be a role model to them by showing that you respect the precaution measures. Make sure to avoid human contact as much as possible during this time of quarantine, wash your hands and always wear a mask when going outside. Get your NIOSH certified N95 respirator mask at this link (we even have a model designed for children).