Description: How do you talk to a child about …. (enter name of issue/event here). How would you answer that question if the blank were filled in with Covid-19? If you have taken a course or course section on child psychology (or even if not) think about what should go into an answer to that question. How would the answer vary depending on the age of the child? On the child’s life/family circumstances? How much should children be told about Covid-19 and in how much detail? Once you have your thoughts in order read through the article linked below from the Lancet a top-ranked medical journal.
Source: Protecting the psychological health of children through effective communication about COVID-19, Louise Dalton, Elizabeth Rapa, and Alan Stein, Child and Adolescent Health, The Lancet
Date: March 31, 2020
So, where there any unexpected things in the article? A standard piece of advice in response to such questions is to only answer the (actual/specific) questions children ask and to make sure you DO answer them. Their questions will be tied to their developmental level and by focusing on what they are specifically asking you will be tailoring your answer in developmentally appropriate ways. Another basic is to talk about your own feeling a bit. If we withhold all emotion from our answers children may become MORE concerned as they can tell that we are anxious and if we do not acknowledge this they may worry about what they are not being told. Lastly, make note of what children are missing as a result of isolation (e.g., contact with friends and loved ones) and find ways to facilitate alternative contacts. It may be a whole new world for now, but our human concerns are just that – human and pretty basic.
Questions for Discussion:
- How might your discussion of Covid-19 with a child vary by the child’s age?
- What sorts of things are children of different ages likely to be concerned about?
- What are some things that children might be afraid to ask about or to talk about and what should we do about those things?
References (Read Further):
Dalton, L., Rapa, E., & Stein, A. (2020). Protecting the psychological health of children through effective communication about COVID-19. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. Link
Schonfeld, D. J. (1993). Talking with children about death. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 7(6), 269-274. Link
Sori, C. F., & Biank, N. M. (2006). Counseling children and families experiencing serious illness. Engaging children in family therapy: Creative approaches for integrating theory and research in clinical practice, 223-244. Link
Check out the references and links at the bottom of the page of the article linked earlier in this posting.