Hot Topics     Home and Family     Healthy Kids     Health Guide    

Talking Covid with the kids



How to be informative without freaking them out

Talking Covid with the kids


Humans, especially children, are inquisitive by nature. In fact, encouraging your child to ask questions, and answering the ones you can, are among the most important parental duties. The unprecedented pandemic continues to bring up questions for al of us, and because adults are more likely to receive information before children, it falls to us to share, or not to share. Or to half-share. To help navigate this often-nerve-wracking terrain, the Child Mind Institute’s Rachel Ehmke offers some guidance.

She writes: “Many parents are wondering how to talk to children about the impacts of the virus in a way that will be reassuring and not make kids more worried than they already may be.”

Similarly, I have found myself in situations with kids ranging from preschoolers to teens. Of course some are more inquisitive than others, and all are wise to sugarcoating. For the most part, I’m a natural optimist, but the pandemic has put that trait to the test. Rather than a “glass half full” guy, I am more “look what a pretty glass I am lucky to have.”

One thing I definitely do falls in line with Ehmke’s number one recommendation: Welcome their questions. No matter silly or serious, Ehmke says, “Encourage them to ask and, whatever the question, try to take your child’s concerns seriously. Your goal is to help your children be heard and get fact-based information that is likely more reassuring than whatever they’re hearing from their friends or on the news.”

Also: Don’t avoid questions you can’t answer. Amen to this. I have found myself saying, “I don’t know,” or, more often, “We just don’t know yet” more than ever. Ehmke notes: “It’s tempting to want to reassure your child that things will be better soon, even when you aren’t sure yourself. But teaching children how to tolerate uncertainty is key to reducing anxiety and helping them build resilience.”

Set the tone. I now avoid news-junkie friends. I am not anti-news, but my friends who fixate on it and unload on me are the opposite of what I want to present to a child. There’s a way to do it without upping the already-existing drama. 

READ MORE: Helping children understand the pandemic

Be developmentally appropriate. As Ehmke notes: “It’s okay if you can’t answer everything; being available to your child is what matters.”

Take your cues from your child. Listen. Don’t prompt questions.

Deal with your own anxiety. Hello. In the words of child psychologist Janine Domingues, PhD: “When you’re feeling most anxious or panicked, that isn’t the time to talk to your kids about what’s happening with the coronavirus.”

Be reassuring. This can be a challenge, especially if you’re stressed out. But try. I have found making an effort to find positive things to point out – like the increasing numbers of people who’ve recovered from Covid – can lift everyone’s mood.

Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. Child psychologist Jamie Howard, PhD, notes, “Kids feel empowered when they know what to do to keep themselves safe.”

Recent data suggesting that washing hands not only helps against Covid, but is slowing down other viruses like pertussis and influenza, can be helpful.

Finally, Ehmke advises us to keep talking. As if we could stop.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Weeklong FAIR Film Festival 2022

    The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) Hosts a Film Screening Plus Q&A

    The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) will kick off the FAIR Film Festival 2022 with an in-person screening of the documentary film I Am A Victor plus a selection of short films on Sunday, June 12 at 1:00pm EDT at Caveat on the lower east side in Manhattan. read more »
  • Keep kids learning during summer

    3 Fun, Easy Ways

    With school out, summertime brings long, carefree days of play and fun. With a little thought and a few supplies, summer is a perfect opportunity to revitalize their innate love of learning that may be a bit squashed after a year of academic pressures, tests and schedules. read more »
  • Take steps to support literacy

    8 ways to inspire children to read

    Reading is a foundation for learning, yet a vast gap exists in access to books for low-income neighborhoods. read more »
  • Sweeten up summer with a frozen, fruity snack

    Try these easy to make ice pops

    Heading to the freezer for a fruity ice pop can transport you from your own backyard to a tropical island, and the experience can be even more rewarding when the tasty treat is homemade. read more »
  • Clean. Drain. Dry. Every Time!

    Help keep invasive species out of our waters

    One of the most effective ways we can all help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species is by following proper procedures for cleaning, draining, and drying watercraft and equipment every time you leave the water. read more »
  • It pays to give

    5 ideas for investing in the world around you

    In a world fraught with social, political and environmental strife, a mindset that involves a more community-driven approach can make a meaningful difference. Each person’s contributions to improve the earth can send a ripple effect that ultimately transforms communities and the people who live within them. read more »
  • Special gifts to make dad smile

    6 great ideas for the man in your life

    Father’s Day brings a special opportunity each year to celebrate the dad in your life, whether it’s spent lighting a grill in the backyard, heading to the golf course or simply relaxing at home. read more »
  • Grocery store savings hacks

    7 tips to help you slash your bill

    As people continue to eat more meals at home, shoppers everywhere are feeling the pinch of increasing prices on nearly every item at the grocery store. read more »
  • Build friendship skills for back-to-school success

    Focus on your kids' social skills

    When thinking about back-to-school season, most people naturally think of academics. However, it’s just as important to focus on social and emotional skills. read more »
  • Protecting children in a digital age

    8 tips to help keep your kids safe online

    Keeping a watchful eye on your kids requires an increasing level of tech savvy many parents find intimidating. Not only are your kids vulnerable to bad actors online, but your family’s personal information could be at risk, as well. read more »