It can be tough talking to children about coronavirus (COVID-19), especially when we don’t know a lot about it ourselves. We have put together a few pointers to help guide the conversation with children about the coronavirus to help make them feel more secure about the situation because childhood can’t wait.

Don’t be afraid to discuss it

Most children will now have heard about the virus or know something isn’t quite ‘right’. Not talking about something can make children worry more. Let your children feel informed, use trusted, fact-based information. You will be the best source of information and reassurance for your child who may be receiving information and misinformation from different sources.

Be mindful of their age

Don’t give them too much information all at once – this can be overwhelming. Instead, try and answer questions they may have honestly and clearly, in language that they understand. Don’t worry if you can’t answer all of their questions, it’s ok to say you don’t know. What’s more important is that you’re there for them to talk about things.

Read Nurse Dotty's book about Dave the Dog and his worries about Coronavirus, here

Let them lead the conversation

Ask them what they already know about coronavirus, and how they are feeling. They may have questions they would like to ask you. You want to be prepared to answer their questions, but not prompt them. Younger children might understand a picture better than words.

Be reassuring

Chances are, once children hear about coronavirus, they will worry that they or their parents will get it too. Reassure children that it’s rare for them to catch it and they are more likely to catch a cold. Children seem to have milder symptoms but this can be reduced even more by frequently washing hands and limiting the amount of time you spend outside. Help them to keep motivated, such as by thinking of a song they can sing whilst they are doing this.

Keep talking

Continue to talk to children and update them when you know more. Letting them know that you don’t know all of the answers, but once you do, you’ll let them know, too, can be comforting.

Keep up some routines

When we are anxious it can be reassuring to keep to some familiar activities and routines that help family life to feel more normal.

For more information on keeping routines, take a look at our day-to-day guide

Look after yourself, too

When you’re feeling anxious and panicked, children can pick up on that. If you’re feeling anxious, wait until you’re feeling calmer before talking to children about Coronavirus.