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Talking to children about coronavirus


How do you explain something that might feel unexplainable to a child? It’s difficult enough for us to wrap our heads around what’s going on at the moment before we even think about explaining it to our children.

Here are our top tips for talking to your child about coronavirus and the current situation in ways that will be clear, empathetic and reassuring.

Top tips

  • Try describing the virus as a cousin of the cold or flu if they know what these are or find another word or concept that your child already understands to help you to explain it.
  • Ask them how they feel – draw a few different faces representing different emotions like sad, relaxed and worried and ask your child to show you which one they feel. You can also use our mood metre – have your child point to which emotion they’re feeling and talk about it. Empathise and reassure.
  • If they see you or another adult getting upset or anxious at any point explain in simple terms why you felt that way and reassure them.
  • Explain to older children that people with the virus feel very hot and cough but that almost everyone feels better after it goes.
  • Reassure them that you’re keeping them safe by keeping them at home and that when thing are better they’ll be able to go back out and about as usual.
  • Tell them how important washing their hands is to stop the virus from jumping from their hands into their body and show them how to wash their hands properly.
  • If your child asks you a question that you don’t know the answer just say so and say that you can try and find the answer together.
  • Don’t feel that you need to talk about it too much, it shouldn’t be the main topic of conversation with your children.
  • Find ways to stay calm in front of your children.
  • Have a pattern to your day so life still seems predictable during this period of change.