This article was passed on to us from one of our hospital partners, Nationwide Children’s Hospital. To read the full article in its original format, you can find it here: How to Talk to Your Kids about COVID-19. My below thoughts and the above video are just a commentary on the original piece.
In this important article about talking to kids about COVID-19, Dr. Nicole Dempster, a pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio University, gives us 3 practical tips for how we can have an important discussion with kids about this virus.
She gives three main tips for having this conversation.
- Prepare Yourself- how do you feel about the current state? Have you talked with a friend or spoken words out loud about your feelings? It is one thing to think, another thing to speak. Saying the words out loud to a friend or the mirror can help you verbalize the key messages you want to share with kids.
- Have the Conversation- Here, Dr. Dempster breaks it down into three steps. a) Discover/dig for facts- ask your child what they know so far from the things they have heard. Use this as a baseline for navigating to truth. ( b) Discover/dig for feelings- ask your child the same things you did in Step #1. c) Ways to help- share with your child the many ways they can help themselves and others during this time (i.e. hand washing, no face-touching, etc).
- Keep Life As Normal As Possible- We get three more takeaways within this. a) Limit discussion about the virus- no sense in dwelling, for you or for the child. State the facts, sort out the feelings, and pivot to other topics that provoke less anxiety. b) Don’t say “Don’t Worry” as a response to questions. Instead, repeat the messages you have already said to make the child feel safe. c) Be consistent- have the same messages and be consistently positive. We will get through this.
Let’s follow this advice if we are speaking to kids- it could make a huge difference on their psychosocial state and on us as well!