How to Talk to the Kids About the Coronavirus
I'm no expert but I am a mom with a heart, and I wanted the kids to be informed but not scared about the Coronavirus. This is what I told them.
Moms don't need any help when it comes to worrying. We're pretty good at it without the help of the Coronavirus, but now that it's here, there are dozens of new thoughts that creep in and they all start with, "What if?"
We can freak out and drive ourselves crazy with all of the things that could happen, or we can get educated about the virus, prepare as much as possible, and have conversations with the kids that will help calm their nerves. And ours too.
Kallan is 10, and she asks the most questions of my three girls on a daily basis. Sometimes she asks me hard math questions and sometimes she corners me about why the cats like to claw things, or which dog might love her more. I don't always have great answers to those questions, and the Coronavirus subject presents brand new territory for feeling inadequate as a mom.
At dinner on Sunday night I brought it up by saying, "You know, I want all of you to make sure you're washing your hands a lot at school." They said they're making a habit of it already. I didn't want to sound like I was reading a CDC pamphlet, but I wanted them to know they needed to be proactive about keeping their hands clean, keep their fingers out of their eyes and noses, and give up on that game of touching every wall and doorknob possible as they make their way down the hallways. That opened the floodgates for questions.
Finley is 11 and Piper is 8, and from them, it was a constant stream of questions for a minute or so. Are we all going to get sick? How does it make you feel? Is the school going to close? If I get a cough, does that mean I have it? Do we have to wear a mask? Okay, okay. We're not going to panic about any of this.
I just said in a very matter-of-fact way, "Look, guys, when there are things we can't control, we do our best with what we have. We're healthy overall, and we're going to keep eating grapefruit and kiwis that are loaded with Vitamin C, we're going to wash our hands a lot, and we're going to keep living our lives."
I tried to put things in perspective and pointed out that there are 1.3 billion people in China, and there are around 80,000 cases of Coronavirus there. That means 1.299+ billion people in China have not contracted it at this point. Coronavirus is serious, and I have my worries too, but sometimes a big picture focus makes things a little less scary. And if kids follow a mom's emotions, I want to be reassuring.
After having time to think about it, Kallan looked me with teary eyes and said, "When is the Coronavirus going to end?" My stomach turned a little on that one. Nobody knows, sweet thing. Nobody knows.
We're a praying family, and that's what we're going to do with the Coronavirus issue while we're washing our hands and doing the little things that we can control. And it's not just prayers for our little Austin pack, but for the globe.
The world is full of fighters, and we're going to conquer this virus eventually. Until then, our little family is choosing to be grateful for every day. That will never change.