With the majority of schools closing to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), your kids probably have questions about what’s going on. We asked clinical psychologist Laura Gray, PhD, for some tips for talking to kids about coronavirus-related school closings.

  1. Explain WHY schools are closed. Be sure your kids understand that schools are closed because keeping space between people, not touching people and avoiding large crowds can slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone healthy.
  2. Tell your kids it’s okay to feel sad/frustrated. Let them know that it’s normal to feel sad/frustrated/disappointed that they are missing school and other community events. Encourage them to talk, or even draw, about their emotions.
  3. Focus on the positives. Emphasize that now is a great time to focus on some other really fun things that they don’t usually get to do, like working on a new craft project, learning to cook their favorite meal or teaching you their new soccer skills in the backyard. Consider starting a family “Gratitude Wall” to write down things everyone is grateful for each day during this break from school.
  4. Encourage daily routine and continued school work. To help everyone stay healthy, make a Daily Schedule that includes time for exercise, school work, reading and fun family activities.

Addressing fears about the safety of classmates and teachers

Kids may also feel worried about the safety of their classmates and teachers at this time. Here are some ways to address their fears.

  • Remind them that kids don’t usually feel sick from COVID-19, so their friends will most likely be just fine.
  • Reassure them that most people who do get COVID-19 get mild symptoms. If anyone they know does get sick, they will stay home and rest until they get better.
  • If they are worried about a teacher getting sick, remind them that staying home from school is the best way to help keep people healthy.
  • If a teacher gets sick, reassure your child that there are doctors who are ready to help them get better. In the meantime, teacher will use their healthy hygiene strategies and stay away from anyone who is sick. ­­

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura GrayLaura Gray, PhD, is a clinical psychologist at Children's National Hospital.

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