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Seven tips for talking with children, teens about COVID-19

Seven tips for talking with children, teens about COVID-19

Kids and teens are stressing about more than masks.

While most youth haven’t experienced illness from COVID-19, they’ve all been exposed to life changes. They also may worry about their family, friends or event themselves getting ill with coronavirus. Family members, parents, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children and teens make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear.

The Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic has put together some tips to help adults have conversations about COVID-19 with their child/teen.

  1. Adults and parents do your best to normalize by being open and honest. Simply put: Tell them exactly “it is OK not to be OK.”
  2. Sharing the struggle with them rather than faking it allows them to realize they are not alone in the difficulty. That we all go through struggles and that is OK.
  3. Don’t force the issue if they aren’t ready to talk about it, but give them an avenue to return when they are ready. When they are ready to talk do your best to listen without judgment and let them get out what they are trying to say- remember their feelings are valid, too.
  4. Begin a conversation by asking open ended questions, such as, “What is COVID -19?” Allow them to share their thoughts openly.
  5. Speak to the child or children at the level they are at. For example, the approach of this topic to 3-6-year-old children would be different from those between the ages of 7-17, yet we cannot belittle the worry and experiences of each child/person.
  6. Encourage children to talk about their worries, fears and how they feel about COVID -19, and let them know it is all a new learning experience for everybody. After all, we are learning and will keep learning together.
  7. Read books that children can relate to that discuss other diseases. This would help create awareness to them of other diseases that existed and how people coped.

You can get additional tips at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019.

It’s important to seek help from your child’s medical provider if they have any self-harm behaviors or if they have nightmares, anxieties, and increased anger or disruptive behaviors—it’s a safe time to seek care.

Lexie Honey LCSW Kid Clinic Lexie Honey is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) at the Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, a school-based pediatric clinic in Gillette, Wyoming. The medical clinic serves children ages 2 weeks to 21 years old; and counseling services for children 4 years old to 21 years old.It is located at 800 Butler Spaeth Rd., across from St. Matthew’s Catholic Church. The Kid Clinic is open Monday-Friday from 8 am-5 pm. For more information, call 307-688-8700 or visit www.cchwyo.org/kidclinic.

The Kid Clinic is a collaborative effort between Campbell County Health and Campbell County School District.