How to talk with your kids and ease fears about coronavirus


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — With the spread of the coronavirus occurring across the United States, and now three positive cases in Ohio, a pediatric psychologist offers suggestions on how you can talk with your children about the illness without causing fear.

Dr. Nicole Dempster works at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and said before you sit down for a conversation with your children, take a look at your own fears and anxieties. 

“Making sure you’ve thought through how do I feel about it, how can I process my concerns with someone else, that way I’m not processing with my child,” said Dempster.

Dempster also recommends making your children part of the precautions you take for the coronavirus, even just explaining why you wipe down a cart or use extra hand sanitizer. 

“A lot of kids lives feel very much not in their control so we can say well we can wash our hands, here are the symptoms we’re looking for but we’re going to stay home if we’re sick but then we’re modeling we’re still living our normal life,” she said.

Kids may ask questions or make jokes about the coronavirus, but Dempster said if it begins to impact their everyday lives, it may be a sign of a problem. 

“Saying, ‘It seems this keeps coming up, tell me what’s on your mind’ and you might find, ‘Oh I’m still having nightmares,’ or ‘I’m having trouble sleeping,’ or ‘I’m not eating as usual.’ Those would be the things I would say let’s talk to somebody else then,” said Dempster. 

Finally, Dempster recommends just using common sense and your knowledge of your child when deciding what you tell them.

She said it is OK to discuss the deaths that have occurred as long as you remind them that not everyone who contracts the virus dies from it.

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