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How to Talk to Kids About COVID-19


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by PBS Kids

We're a little ways into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the end is not exactly clear yet. At this point, you have probably already received quite a few questions from your kids, and you've done your best to answer them honestly without invoking unnecessary fear. It's hard to know the best way to talk about adult situations with the little ones we want to protect. Deborah Farmer Kris wrote the guide How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus to give parents a resource so you aren't all alone in this conversation. Even if you've already been discussing it with your children, it may still help to give this a read.

Earlier this week, I overheard my kids engaged in a round of “I heard” and “Did you know?” while they were getting ready for bed.

“I heard that Margaret’s dad has it,” said my six-year-old.

“Did you know that it’s the worst sickness ever?” added my eight-year-old.

Neither statement is accurate, but they were revealing: I had thought my initial conversations with my kids about COVID-19 had been good enough. But with adults, kids at school and the news all hyper-focused on this coronavirus outbreak, my reassuring voice needed to be a little louder.

A favorite Mister Rogers’ quote ran through my mind: “Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.”

So before lights out, we talked. I asked what they had heard about the coronavirus. We got it all out — their questions, their “I heards” and their fears. The rest of the conversation had three themes.

READ MORE: How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus