How to Talk to Your Kids About the Pandemic

Dr. Jennifer Variste, a pediatrician from Spring, TX, lends her expertise to guide parents figure on what to tell their kids about the pandemic or any scary situation.

We discuss what to do if you’re looking for a new pediatrician during the pandemic then move on to discuss what information is too much information for our kids to know about the pandemic.

Talking to Your kids about the pandemic – overview of our conversation

(1:22) Dr. Variste gives advice on how to find a new pediatrician during the pandemic or during a time of social distancing.

  • Make sure you’re still doing a prenatal visit
  • Do some research before the baby gets here, that way you’re in a low-pressure environment and you’re not pressured to make a decision right away when you’re in the hospital.
  • A lot of offices are offering telemedicine options is to have that prenatal medicine prenatal visit done virtually.
  • Try to figure out if the doctor is someone that you can trust and that you can develop a rapport with. You’re going to have to trust the doctor because you’re going to be sharing intimate details with him or her.
  • Pediatricians are the experts when it comes to child health.

(4:42) tips about how to talk to our children about Covid 19 and how much information to share with them.

  • If you as an adult, have anxiety, you want to address it first before talking to your child.
  • The goal of having a conversation with the child is to reassure them and empower them and give them a sense of comfort and stability that they may not have had before you had the conversation with them.
  • Ask your child what they’ve heard, what are their thoughts about it, if they have any questions about it.
  • As you listen to them and they’re sharing their questions with you, you want to answer their questions taking into account their developmental level.
  • What you’re sharing with them is basically to empower them so they don’t feel clueless and blind and also give them a sense of control

Related: Surviving Social Distancing as a Single Parent

(7:59) The importance of empowering our children with knowledge.

  • Empower the child with things that they can do now that give them back a sense of control that’s really important.
  • Empowering the child so that they feel safe.
  • Maintain some stability by letting them know that some things don’t have to change.

(9:10) How do we explain social distancing to our younger children without scaring them?

  • Take into account their age.
  • Kids may understand more than we think they do.
  • If your child keeps repeating “why” realize it may be more of a coping mechanism.
  • Bottom line, explain in simple terms: this germ is really serious and we don’t want to unknowingly spread it.

Related: 5 Best Practices for Single Parents Taking Care of Quarantined Kids

(10:24) What are signs of anxiety we can look for in our older children that may not show the normal outward signs like crying or telling us that they are scared?

  • Children cope in different ways. If your three-year-old tells you that they’re scared, it’s okay to validate it. On the other hand, your 15-year-old is coping by withdrawing a little bit, it’s okay to validate that too.
  • They may just need time to process what’s going on before they can actually verbalize what they’re feeling. The initial way to address that is to give them that space.
  • As long as it is not destructive behavior or disrespecting behavior, just allow the space and the time to process emotions. And when they’re ready to verbalize it in a way that they can and they will approach you about it.

(12:20) Dr. Variste shares some of her best resources for parents to find information to share with their children.

How to Talk to Your Kids About the Pandemic