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Kids and COVID-19

Talking with children and handling concerns during the novel coronavirus

The risk that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 poses to children is very low. That being said, COVID-19 is the main topic of discussion throughout the world—your children probably have questions about what it is and are wondering if they should be scared. Here are some appropriate ways to discuss COVID-19 as a family:

How do I help them deal with stress or worry?

Be reassuring and supportive. Children respond to stress differently, so they may seem more clingy, anxious, angry or agitated.

Give them extra time and attention. Speak kindly and make more opportunities for play and relaxation.

Listen to their concerns. Don’t be dismissive or ignore their fears.

Respond with age-appropriate information.

What do I do about potential disruptions?

Make a plan. Stay up to date with trusted sources of health information.

Stay current on travel restrictions.

Keep regular routines with bedtimes, meals and exercise.

Stay in contact with your child’s school or day care.

If my child has a chronic condition, what should I do?

The following are good tips in general:

Practice proper handwashing. Explain how and when to wash hands.

Sanitize surfaces and toys regularly. Use bleach-based products for surfaces that can handle it. Use a household cleaner or wipe to clean surfaces and objects that are used frequently.

Consult with your child’s specialist. If you have to wait, be patient and remember that others are likely calling, too.

Avoid other people who are sick.

What do I do if my child is showing symptoms?

Call your primary care physician.

Avoid the emergency room unless your child genuinely needs emergency care.

If your kids are sick, keep them home. Be vigilant; wash your hands.

Protect yourself and others.

Sean McTigue, m.d., is medical director for Pediatric Infection Prevention & Control at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

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