How to Talk to Your Kids About a Pandemic

We are in a pandemic. But how do we best explain this to our kids?

How to Talk to Your Kids About a Pandemic

As a parent, there are many things that you will have to talk to your kid about. Talking to strangers, crossing the street, dealing with bullies, how to treat people and make friends, sex, and drugs are just a few. But how to talk to your kids about a pandemic. Well that is a new one.

Here are a few ways to make the discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic just a little bit easier:

Separate Fact From Fiction

During any national crisis, there is a tendency to catastrophize. It is simply human nature to imagine the worst-case scenario, and in the process, become even more panicked. Then we pick up the news, in an attempt to learn more, and get even more exaggerated accounts of what is actually happening. Where we end up is a whole lot more anxious than we were before.

Now that kids are super-connected, the same thing can happen to them. Their friends talk to them about the pandemic, they google it, scroll through their Facebook feed, and before they know it, start thinking the world is ending.

What is lost in the process is reality. Here is where you come in. Teach your kids to search for credible news sources, and together with them find out the reality. Teach them to avoid taking just any news article or friend’s Facebook post at face value. When you help them become an educated consumer, not only do your empower them to find accurate knowledge, but also to recognize what isn’t true – and what might simply be a news article that is written to get attention by generating fear.

Limit Media Influences

There is so much data about the effect of too much media consumption on our mood, ability to concentrate, control impulses, and even our health. During a national crisis, this effect is on overdrive. Because not only do people turn to the media more during a crisis, but as numerous studies have shown, articles are slanted toward exaggerated versions of reality. And the more we expose ourselves to these influences, the more uncertain our future seems to become, and the more panicked we become.

One of the best things you can do for your kid during this pandemic is model balanced media consumption. Don’t spend your day scrolling through articles about coronavirus. Don’t make your day revolve around your smartphone. If you do work online, make sure your kid understands the difference between doing work online, and consuming media online.

Limit your media consumption to no more than one hour a day, and spend the rest of your time getting outside, exercising, reading a book, or doing an activity that you enjoy. These are the things we would want our kids to do. So help them by modeling it for them.

Encourage Them To Come To Your With Questions

Kids are always full of questions, and especially when the future is uncertain. They may look online for answers, they may talk to their friends, or they may make assumptions. When they do, they may not come to accurate conclusions about what is happening, and the result is that they will likely become more anxious, and more fearful about the future.

You can stop this cycle by reminding your kid that if he has questions about the pandemic (or anything) he should always come to you first. If you don’t have the answer, do a web search and use the opportunity to find credible sources of information. When you engage your kid in the process of coming to you to find answers to his questions, and searching for answers with you, you help him avoid influences that might steer him from the truth, and are likely also to only increase his fears.

Talking to your kid about this pandemic is something every parent will have to do at some point, yet it can also be an opportunity to help your child learn how to manage fears, find correct information, and avoid the things that will exacerbate his fears.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses

Effects of Digital Media on Adolescents is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores how the digital world is affecting teens of successive generations.

It is becoming clear that the effects of digital media are affecting each successive generation of teenagers in ways that are only now beginning to come into view. iGen’ers’ communication and behaviors differ from those that characterized the Baby Boomers, Millennials, and the XGen’ers. We now know that the adolescent brain is still developing, and some digital behaviors do affect ongoing brain growth. Neuroplasticity can be affected by repetitive or obsessive behaviors, and the digital world offers risks for those adolescents who may engage in excessive video gaming. This course is for professionals, teachers, and parents who are seeking any available information that will help them to monitor their adolescents’ online behavior, teach teens how to remain safe while online, and model appropriate digital behaviors. Included are strategies that can help contribute to a balance between the digital world and the real-time, face-to-face lives of older children and adolescents. Course # 31-18 | 2019 | 52 pages | 20 posttest questions

Psychological Effects of Media Exposure is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events.

This course will explore why we are so drawn to traumatic events and how media portrayals of these events influence our thoughts, conclusions, and assumptions about them. It will then discuss how the intersection of trauma and media has evolved to provide a place for celebrity-like attention, political agendas, corporate positioning, and even the repackaging, marketing, and selling of grief.

Lastly, the course will look at the interventions and exercises clinicians can use to help their clients understand the effects of trauma becoming public, how to protect themselves, and most importantly, how to recover from traumatic experience – even when it becomes public. Course #21-23 | 2018 | 44 pages | 15 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

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