Children need factual, age appropriate information about the potential seriousness of COVID-19, and concrete instruction about how to avoid its spread. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk can help reduce anxiety.
Parents and Guardians should:
• Remain calm. If a parent seems overly worried, a child’s anxiety may rise.
• Provide reassurance. Health and school officials are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy. Children are not high-risk and the majority of people with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover.
• Keep information simple and straightforward. Pittsburgh family physician and parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa suggests asking the child what he/she has heard and believes.
• Find opportunities to correct misinformation. It’s okay if you don’t know all the answers. Information is constantly changing. Please keep the dialogue with your child open.
• Reinforce that not one group is to blame. No group should be stereotyped as responsible for the virus, and bullying or racial discrimination is. This virus can affect anybody.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is highly advisable that you make whatever changes necessary to reduce the risk of getting sick.
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick.
- Limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
- Stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.