Talking with Kids about Coronavirus

(This is by no means limited to homeschoolers – I just figured more parents of school-aged kids would frequent this side of the forum.)

So for those of you who have kids, how have you been talking with them about coronavirus? Have you leaned toward trying to keep information from them (especially young ones), or do you simply let it come up naturally and talk about it then? Have your kids seemed anxious about it or do they take it in stride?

My 7-year-old has started drawing pictures of viruses that he’s invented (after seeing the typical pictures on news sites when coronavirus is covered). My husband and I have tried to not talk about it in front of our kids quite as much, but I think they’ve picked up on a fair amount and they do know that it’s to blame for them not getting to see friends and family members much anymore. My 5-year-old was interested in looking at the map with the numbers of cases and deaths on it, but I stopped doing that with her because I didn’t want her to think it was a game, but also didn’t want to have to explain what a big deal it was. It’s hard to know how to balance informing vs. scaring at that age.

I have to stop myself from relaying morbid facts to my wife in front of the kids (she reminds me not to)–such as, “The first patient died in Michigan from Covid.” It’s quite frightening to our children. On the other hand, despite this care, I am concerned that likely, we will all know someone who dies, even if the mortality rate is the lowest possible.

We try to turn it more positive by talking about how we can help others, and praying that God will keep people safe and have enough money to keep what they need.

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Yeah, I’m afraid of that too. :frowning: How are you and your practice holding up? Do you have a lot of cases where you are?

My kids are a little older (6th-9th grade) and I started a family coronavirus journal in a google doc and encouraged them to jot down their thoughts about how it is affecting them or what they are thinking every day, since it is a “historic” event. Hopefully this gives them a project and an outlet (and it lets me hear what they are thinking).

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Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, called for all businesses that are not essential to be shut down–including restaurants, etc. We’re pretty worried about our neighbors, though the number of cases hasn’t increased a great deal yet. https://www.michigan.gov/Coronavirus

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Perhaps it is not the right approach, but we talk very openly about the coronavirus and how it is affecting people with our 5 and 7 year old. They have been very much affected, too, with school and all of their activities canceled. So we let our kids know that we are staying home to help prevent the spread of the virus, so that less people will get sick. We also pray together that God would help stop the spread of the virus and we pray for protection of the doctors and nurses treating the patients. So our kids understand that the virus is dangerous, but they seem to feel safe staying at home and trusting God.

Before school was canceled, the teachers were teaching the kids about the virus, showing them pictures of what it looks like and teaching them about prevention and hand washing. One minor positive benefit from all this discussion is that it has been a topic of science learning for them. Last week over dinner, my kindergartner declared, “I want to be a scientist when I grow up, so I can discover a new germ!”

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There have been some good experiences, as well as scary ones. My sister and her husband, who don’t have kids but are quite involved in ours and those of my other sister and brother, have been WhatsApping challenges to us to do–draw, play teaparty, do a Murphy exercise challenge, for example–and post our shots or videos. It’s been neat to connect this way, as some live in Africa and Greensboro, NC (far away from Michigan). We’ve decided to keep a journal as a family of our experiences for posterity. I’m going to record our feelings as a family as we stay at home from school, watch and listen to the news, and pray for our neighbors. My kids will draw pictures of what they experience, to put in the book. Hopefully, it will pass on some good stories for our grandchildren or some other group.

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We are having our kids help lead church at home. One reads and another suggests songs. It is a short service with our family of 5 and my in laws, who are missionaries but unable to return to Togo because of new no-fly rules. It is fun, though.

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Heard this short message from John Piper geared towards kids. It was nice, could be particularly good for any kids who might be anxious about the virus news

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Being a grandmother, I’m coming at this question from a slightly different angle. I’ve said so often how hard it must be to be a parent of kids these days. I admire young parents who are coping well. My granddaughter is only 18 months old now so there’s no “discussion” to be had in that regard. That said, I have two adult “children” and elderly parents (so I’m someone’s “child” too. LOL) I think this has strained families in that my kids are worried about my husband and I and, in turn, I’m worried about my own parents. All this can lead to strain when it comes to agreeing on best practices as an extended family. If I had school-aged kiddos right now, I’d do my best not to let this psychologically scar them. I’d talk about “a germ that’s going around right now that is a bit stronger than others in the past”. I tell them we need to practice social distancing and good hygiene to protect those who “aren’t as strong, health-wise, as our family is.” I’d tell them that sometimes germs like this scare people and cause them to perhaps over-react (i.e. hoarding, shaming others, political arguments). Finally, I’d reassure them, praise them when they are generous in their choices, encourage empathy, and try to keep a fairly matter of fact approach to it all. I’d certainly shield them from my own speculations and personal hand-wringing. If they were upset by something they saw or heard, I’d refer back to our discussion about how fear can effect people but that as long as we take care of ourselves and others, we are doing our part to get past this.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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