Tips for Talking with Your Children about COVID-19

Boy talking with his father.

Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Child Life Specialists Hanna Gilroy and Sonya Charles offer these tips for talking with your kids about COVID-19:

  • Be honest: when your children get enough of the right information from you, they will be more protected from some of the misinformation they may hear from others.
  • Give simple facts:
    • COVID-19 is a little bit like the flu or a cold, but because it is a brand new sickness, our bodies are not as good at protecting us from it, so it is easier for the germs to move from one person to another.
    • Remind children that there are lots of grownups working hard to keep them and everyone else safe.
    • Validate their feelings.
  • Give your children jobs to help them take action:
    • Teach children to be “Germ Busters”:
      • Practice hand washing, cough into your elbow, and stay at home.
      • Teach children that being a Germ Buster will help them protect their friends, grandparents and community.
  • Let them ask questions.
  • It’s ok if you don’t know the answerbe honest if you don’t know, you can say:
    • “That’s a really great question, let’s see if we can find the answer together.”
    • “I don’t know, but I promise that I’ll tell you when I learn something new.”

How to help children cope when you are stuck at home

  • Make a schedule, but let it be flexible.
  • Play outside! Fresh air and exercise are important and can be done while practicing social distancing.
  • Monitor their media exposure:
    • Turn off the news and put down your phone.
    • For young children limit as much exposure as possible; for older children talk with them about what they are seeing and hearing.
  • Play a game, make a fort, read a book.
  • Call, FaceTime, or write letters to family and friends that you can’t see.

Helpful Resources