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08:21 AM

KCUR: Kansas City's Kids Have Questions About the Coronavirus - Here's how to Talk to Them

By Elle Moxley

Not sure how to talk to your kids about the novel coronavirus?

You’re not alone, says Christina Low Kapalu, a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Mercy. “It comes up with a lot of things that we’ve encountered, like mass shootings and terrorism events. Anytime there’s a big media event that causes a lot of worry, parents ask about how they can talk to their kids in developmentally appropriate ways.”

And it’s OK not to have all the answers – Low Kapalu said you can tell your child that you don’t know, but you’re going to find out. 

As schools close and spring break plans are canceled, here’s how to have some of those tough conversations about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

First and foremost, take care of yourself.

You know how in an emergency on an airplane, the flight crew always tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before putting on your child’s? Well, it’s kind of like that. You’re less able to help your child manage their emotions if you’re also stressed.

“We know it’s a scary time, but when you’re feeling anxious or panicked is not the time to talk to your kids about what’s happening with coronavirus,” said Angela Dunn, the behavioral health coordinator for the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools.

“It's essential for parents to be able to filter what's going on in the media before giving it back to their kids.”

Low Kapalu said parents and caregivers shouldn’t have the news on all the time, especially if their family is practicing social distancing. Take social media breaks, too.

“Make sure you’re checking in as a parent on your own thoughts and feelings,” Low Kapalu said. “Really model the coping skills you want your child to have. Take a quick walk around the block. Go write in your journal. Take a bath.”


For more tips read the full story via KCUR.

Learn how Children's Mercy is taking precautions to protect our patients, families and staff. Find the latetest updates on COVID-19 here