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Talking to your kids about coronavirus

It can be tricky as a parent or carer to know how much to tell your kids about what’s going on in the world. It’s natural to want to keep them away from bad news and let them get on with being kids. You might have found it hard deciding how much to tell them about the coronavirus pandemic.

But children are more aware than we sometimes think. So it’s good that they learn about what’s going on from the person they trust most in the world, which is you. And it’s important that they know the rules and guidelines as they are designed to help them protect themselves and others. We’ve put together some tips to help you support them.

How do I talk to my children about changes to COVID-19 protection measures?

One of the hardest parts of the pandemic has been the changing restrictions. All decisions are made based on the best scientific advice at the time, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Both you and your children may find the changing restrictions hard to deal with. There’s no easy way to explain this to them, but you could say that unfortunately the virus hasn't gone away yet, and we need to be careful in order to prevent it from spreading any further. 

If you have teenage children, they may well be feeling frustrated by the restrictions. Young people often feel invincible from danger and don’t always think ahead about the consequences of what they do, so may be more tempted to bend the rules. Rather than yelling at them about it, try some of these tips on our page on parenting a teen when you talk them.

Tips on talking to your children about coronavirus

Playing helps too

Playing isn’t just fun for kids, it also helps them make sense of the world around them. If you see your wee one putting a facemask on her teddy or building a hospital out of bricks, this is just their way of making sense of the world around them.

Playing is a key part of their development so don’t feel guilty when they play. Even the simplest games they play could be helping them stay emotionally healthy during this tough time. Our page on helping your child through play has more information.

Tips if your children are anxious about getting out and about again

How do I talk to the kids about a family member going into hospital?

If someone in your family or anyone special to your child has to go into hospital, this can be scary for them and you may be worried about how to talk to them about it. This guide from ICU Steps is great for helping children understand what happens when someone goes into intensive care, and has practical things you can do together to make the situation less scary.

Remember, you protect your kids all the time

Try not to feel overwhelmed. You’ve protected them from many day to day risks already – every time they cross a road, for a start! You help them do that safely all the time! By following the official advice you’ll help keep them safe now, too. 

How do I talk to the kids about having to stay at home?

Your kids will be spending more time at home than they usually would. Although you can meet up with friends and family, it’s still good to keep in touch with them on the phone, by email or via video chat as well. If you’re not sure how to set up a video call, there’s a useful guide from the BBC here. Visit the ParentZone website which has some fun online activities children can do to keep in touch with their grandparents. The activities will work with their other friends too.

You can find more information on coronavirus guidelines for children and meeting up with other households here.

This is a strange time for kids, so reassure them that this won’t last forever.

Looking after yourself during the coronavirus pandemic

It’s okay to feel scared, but try not to panic or feel overwhelmed. Make sure you give yourself time to do the things that help you relax and feel happy, as well as thinking about these things for your children.

We have some useful advice on looking after you and your child’s mental health during this time:

You can also find advice on the Mind website about coronavirus and your wellbeing.

Information in BSL

You can find information on coronavirus in British Sign Language (BSL) on the Parentzone Scotland website.