KSHB: How to talk to your children about Coronavirus

March 6, 2020

For children who may be experiencing worry or anxiety about the virus, Susan Pinne, a clinical social worker with the Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City’s Crittenton Children's Center, says one of the first things parents can do is stay calm.


"Kids take their cues from their parents, and so if parents are calm and seem to have everything under control, kids are a lot more likely to remain calm," Pinne said. "So the first thing I would say to parents is think about your own concerns, your own anxiety, and how to get those under control, and then begin to speak to your kids about the coronavirus."

It's also important to remember what’s new about information related to the coronavirus.

"If it's the same story being repeated again and again, then it doesn't mean it's gotten worse, it doesn't mean it's grown, it just means that that's all the information we have right now," Pinne said. "So just to help them understand and to put it into perspective to notice when it's a repeat of a past story and when it's something new."

One of the best things a parent can do is validate a children's emotions. 

"You don't want to downplay their fears and say, ’Oh, it's nothing, it doesn't matter.' You want to be sure that you say, 'I understand that's scary.' And once your child is calm, then you want to talk to them about any misconceptions that they may have and correcting those," Pinne said. "Then you want to to consider the child's age, and again, what they already know about it so you can respond to their fears and their questions in an age-appropriate way."

For example, a 16-year-old may want to know the science behind it and understand things on a deeper level, whereas a younger child is mostly interested in knowing adults aren't afraid and have a plan, according to Pinne.

The Crittenton Children's Center is proud to partner with Sesame Street in Communities, which has developed an Emergency Kit list.

It's a way to help families prepare for any type of emergency with the goal to be prepared, not scared, in any event.

See KSHB's full story: Experts say it's important to keep coronavirus fears in check.