Some days ago I got a call from my almost 10 years old sharing about an experience she had in school. Apparently, her mates had threatened her with having the Corona Virus and she didn’t know how to react to it. This got me thinking, I have not talked to my children about this latest public health epidemic. I felt guilty with all I know as a public health professional and a parent coach, and this made me think I should deliberately teach on this.

This article became necessary also for the public because I know many parents who would be in this situation I found myself some days ago.

How do I talk to my children about the Coronavirus? * Think of this as an opportunity to help build your child’s news and media literacy skills to help separate fact from fiction. The news of the spread of the Coronavirus can be alarming, So it’s your job as a parent to help your child understand why this is a big story and that seeing it everywhere doesn’t really reflect the danger in their lives.

What is this New Coronavirus?When you discuss this be sure to meet your child where they are developmental. Your younger child will interpret this news different from your older child. Try not to talk over your child, you must match the amount of information and the language you choose to their age and stage. If you are talking to young children: you can start by saying there are lots of different viruses, like when you have a bad cold, Coronavirus is another type of Virus. Depending on the age of your child, you might also add that this particular illness is different from the common cold.

The following facts about Corona Virus might be of help. Coronaviruses (COV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe disease. The Novel COV is a new strain that has not been previously identified in human.These viruses are transmitted between animals and people. Common signs include Fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the person can suffer pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death. The following tips should guide you while having this conversation.

Start the conversation by understanding why they know and their feeling about the topic.

Process your own anxiety, make sure you are not panicking in the presence of your children around this Topic.

Validate their fears, gently give them facts to counter any misconception they have and explain where you got your own information from.

Don’t overload them with information, allow them to share and ask questions.

Keep this message simple and factual and focus on the positive messages.

Let them know what the WHO and the government of Nigeria are doing to protect them, let them know how the health personals are working hard to find vaccines and prevent further spread.

Talk to them about protecting themselves which will include some simple hand hygiene, using hand sanitizer, cough etiquette like keeping 5meters distance from people coughing or sneezing and avoiding crowded environment.

Don’t forget to have this conversation sooner than later, your child should have the information first from you, it creates trust and fosters better connection. I hope this helps a parent out there, By the way, will you like to join our class on understanding your child’s learning style this march? This could help you in teaching your child on subjects like this for better understanding. Be Intentional.

©Wendy Ologe

Parent Coach & Author