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The Do's and Don'ts of Discussing Coronavirus With Your Children

As the state of Iowa becomes more affected by the spread of coronavirus, it can be difficult to navigate this serious topic with your children.

DON’T pretend it’s business as usual. “A lot of parents shy away from talking to their kids about things that are scary and a lot of times, what kids are thinking in their heads is scarier than the truth,” says Sarah Holland, DO, a Waukee pediatrician with The Iowa Clinic. “It’s important for your children to hear the truth from you, and to hear that everybody is doing their best to try to make sure that more people don’t get sick.”

Young boy washing his handsDO encourage your child to practice healthy hygiene habits, like washing hands after using the bathroom, sneezing, or coughing; staying home when they are sick; eating healthy food; drinking lots of water; and getting enough sleep.

DON’T let them become overwhelmed with information. “Filter the news in age-appropriate ways. Watch the news with your children, talk about what you’re hearing and help them process the overload of information,” says Allison Whitney, MD, an Ankeny pediatrician with The Iowa Clinic.

DO share news from trusted sources. “Be wary of your sources and be willing to ask questions. Make sure your information is coming from verified sources, like the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health, especially when sharing with your children or on social media,” says Dr. Whitney.

DON’T allow coronavirus to take over your child’s life – or your own! If you are home with your children, be engaged with them. Avoid filling all of their time with screens, and be deliberate about finding fun activities to do together.

DO remember that your child might be stressed, too. “If parents are noticing that kids aren’t sleeping well, or they’re not hungry, or they’re acting out, try to remember that this stress is weighing on them, too,” says Dr. Holland. Validate your child’s concerns and encourage them to continue asking questions as they arise. Open communication is the best way to reassure them.

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