Explaining COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to Children
Let the child/young person’s questions and their age guide as to how much information to provide:
• very young children need brief, simple information and reassurance that they are safe and that the people they care about are safe. They may ask Will I get sick? Will granny/grandad die?
• reassure them that nurses and doctors are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy
• explain that at the present moment very few people in this country are sick with the virus
• tell them that not everyone will get the virus and that the vast majority who get it recover fully
• older children may need help to separate reality from rumour and fantasy. Either provide or direct them to where they can find accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control
Children and young people look to the adults in their lives to guide them on how to react to worrying and stressful events.
If the adults in their lives seem overly worried, their own anxiety may rise:
• if they are anxious, let them talk about their feelings and guide them in reframing their thoughts and concerns to a more helpful way of thinking
• give them extra attention and time, to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions. o Remember they do not always talk about their concerns readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes and so on
• it is very typical for younger children to ask a few questions, return to playing and then come back with further questions
Department of Health and Department of Education and Skills