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How to Explain Coronavirus to a Child with Anxiety

Coronavirus is scary for all of us. For children with comorbid anxiety disorder, school closures and health threats are downright paralyzing. Here are 11 expert tips for talking to your child about COVID-19, navigating the months at home together, and living with the constant hum of uncertainty in an ADHD household.

5 Comments: How to Explain Coronavirus to a Child with Anxiety

  1. Hello hello! My daughter’s school posted this piece on its Facebook page, and I find it very helpful! As a former journalist, I want to address one element of this piece. The wall-to-wall coverage of the coronavirus isn’t driven in this case by viewership, ratings and advertising dollars. This story is news, period. Don’t forget that while news is a business, it is also a public service driven by belief in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Do I have the TV on watching the news while my daughter is home from school? No. I’m tuning in briefly after bedtime and instead reading newspapers online. But it is vital that I and my husband stay updated, because the facts about the pandemic are constantly changing, and it is important to be well-informed. I believe the advice to limit kids’ exposure to news is solid. I just bristle at the suggestion that coverage of this pandemic is driven by anything other than its news value.

  2. “#10. Remind your children of the altruistic purpose of self-quarantining.
    “Oftentimes when kids understand the higher purpose of things, they can do some ‘meaning-making,’ which allows them to feel some control over their conditions,” White says. “For example, some may say, ‘We have to stay home now so that we don’t pass on the virus to others. We are going to be OK. Children are not at risk, but if we stay home we can make sure that grandma and grandpa stay healthy too…”

    Adults, as well as children, need to hear this. It is not about me/I. Kindness and concern for one another, being respectful is so important. NO bullying allowed. Thank you, ADDitude, for letting me share my thoughts with other parents.

  3. The super good news for children and parents about this situation is that children don’t appear to suffer from severe illness from COVID-19. And, according to https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/22996/ on 14 March 2020:

    “As of today, there have been no known deaths reported in the 0-9-year-old age group and there have been lower hospitalization rates compared with adults. The disease seems to primarily impact older adults and those with underlying health problems.”

    We cannot promise the situation will remain this way, and there are many situations that have not been reported to the World Health Organization or to CDC&P. But apparently this is in line with children’s responses to previous novel coronaviruses, for example, in 2018. This is not to say that children cannot pass on the disease to others who are more vulnerable. Hopefully, though, this can help to ease parents’ and children’s fears. Especially if we all continue to wash wash wash our hands. Again!

  4. The best way to deal with corona virus anxiety and most other fears is to simply turn off the media that’s distributing this nonsense ; ]

  5. This is an excellent article and I thank ADDitude and its writers for publishing this. It should help many, many parents (and children). Even without ADD and anxiety, the current state of the world can seem very scary. I’m going to share this piece with my large social media connections.

    Terry Matlen, LMSW, ACSW

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