Talking About Coronavirus with Kids
Today after school two of my kids from church greeted me by asking if I had heard there was a diagnosed case of Coronavirus in our county. They had lots of words about it and expressed genuine concern. Regardless of your personal feelings on the issue, our kids are hearing about it and are anxious.
Coronavirus obviously has the potential to be a serious threat. You can read more about how your church can prepare here. The impact on the United States is yet to be seen, but are children are picking up on the issue.
Here are a few ways we can help them walk through this.
- Turn off the tv. While it is important to be informed, the news outlets earn their living by hyping up whatever the issue of the day is. Hearing the commentary over and over isn’t healthy for anyone. Our kids, however, don’t have the filter that we adults should have. Hearing all of the drama over and over can increase anxiety.
- Stick to the facts. Be honest with kids about what is going on. Be factual. Avoid sharing all of the what if’s and speculations. Don’t discuss worse case scenarios in earshot. Help distinguish between rumor and fact. Share plans or changes as they are come. For big kids, there are probably some great lessons to be learned about how to discern fact from speculation.
- Don’t negate their feelings. Kids will hear enough to be scared. It is ok for them to feel those feelings. We don’t want to discount their feelings as real or act like they are wrong for feeling that way. But, we don’t want them to stay there. Let them talk about how they feel and then point them towards how God is bigger. God is in charge.
- Encourage them to control what they can control. They can practice good hygiene. They can wash their hands (even if there isn’t a pandemic threat!). They can avoid putting their hands in their mouths. Remind them that ultimately God is in control of all things and they are not. They can trust God with everything else.
- Help them to choose not to live in fear. These days our society is consumed with sensationalism which produces much fear and anxiety. Help kids understand that we trust in God and don’t have to live in fear. An illness doesn’t mean God isn’t in charge anymore. He is just as much in control as He was before we heard of the Coronavirus.
- Help them turn anxious thoughts over to God in prayer. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It is not enough to tell kids to just not worry. Then they feel bad for feeling like they do. Instead let’s help them learn to turn those anxious feelings into prayer. When they think, “What if someone I love gets the virus?”, they can then turn that into a prayer of “God, please protect my loved ones.” Kids need us to model this for them. Which, by the way, means that we need to handle our anxious thoughts in the same way.
I’m praying that this issue is one of those we look back on and see that we over-reacted. (Where were you for Y2K?) Most of all, I’m praying for God’s protection and for Him to bring many people to Himself during this outbreak. Lots of prayer. Lots of hand washing.