Kids and coronavirus: Parents set the tone at home

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
 | 
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)

children praying in churchWorking Americans aren't the only ones whose lives have been disrupted and are facing the unknown. It's can be even more frightening to children, says one family therapist.

How should parents be talking to their children about the coronavirus pandemic? For many youngsters of elementary school age, it's likely the biggest crisis they've known in their lives. They've been torn from their schools and classmates – and their world seems to be falling apart.

Family Therapist Michelle Pate explains that children don't have the maturity to put the pandemic into context. "Depending on their maturity, a lot of kids that age … have a hard time separating fact from fantasy," Pate tells OneNewsNow. "So they might imagine the worst catastrophe."

Pate

She says it's important that parent be honest with their children. "They do need to know the facts – depending on their age," she advises. "Older kids can handle more of the information on their own. They can handle it."

Youngsters may hear that older people are more at risk from the virus, so they may be anxious for their grandparents. Pate suggests letting them connect with the grandparents via online video. "Let them talk with their grandparents [and see them] – and that will help their fears," she adds.

According to the California-based therapist, that's a good way to keep them connected with their friends as well. "Just because they have to stay home doesn't mean they are being isolated," says Pate. "They still need to have some kind of a social life. It's very important for kids at that age."

Most importantly, she says, parents need to remember that children take their cues from their parents. "[They] need to be really mindful that … the kids are going to pick up on [their own stress] and react to it – so parents need to stay calm."

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