Global – April 4 2020

How to talk with your child about coronavirus

Many young people are worried about the coronavirus (COVID-19). SOS Children's Villages offers some advice on how to inform your children without frightening them.

*Please donate to our Children in Crisis Fund to help us protect children from the impacts of COVID-19.*

SOS Children's Villages Austria runs a national hotline for children, young people and parents. The hotline has received questions about how to discuss coronavirus with children appropriately. Birgit Satke, who leads the hotline team, offers some tips on how parents and caregivers can best address the topic with their children.  

1. Don’t panic

People of all ages can become infected with the COVID-19 virus. Since it is a new type of virus, it is not yet possible to say exactly what the specific consequences will be for children. Explain to your child that the virus is usually not life threatening for healthy people. Following proper precautions can reduce the number of people who get infected.

2. Age-appropriate information

Take your child’s worries and fears seriously—but exaggerated worry can increase fear in children. Therefore, explain to your children, in a way that is suitable for their ages, how they could get infected by the virus and how to best to protect themselves from it.

3. Hygiene measures

Teach your child appropriate hygiene measures such as regularly and effectively washing their hands, and coughing and sneezing into their bent elbows or into a handkerchief. Instruct them to avoid direct contact with people who cough or sneeze.

4. Use reputable sources

The more exaggerated reports are, the more worried you may become—because fear is contagious. Therefore, stick to media that is known for presenting accurate information. Only present reliable information and sources to your child.

5. Take information breaks

Especially on social media, photos, advice and reports are often being shared that are completely false. This spreads a lot of misleading information, which in turn can increase the fear among your children.

6. Be a role model

Children learn from their parents' behavior. Reconsider your own use of media and how you deal with the situation. If you are constantly waiting for the latest news about infections or if you are permanently Googling for it, this does not set a good example for your child.

Sign-up and Stay Connected

Complete the form below to receive email updates from SOS Children's Villages - USA. Together, we'll build loving, stable families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children in 136 countries, including the United States.

Sponsor a child

You have the power to give a vulnerable child the foundation for a promising future. Sponsor a child today to provide a loving home and an education!