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explaining coronavirus to children

Children have been suddenly removed from their schools, prevented from seeing their friends, and in many cases unable to see their Grandparents and other loved ones who bring them feelings of safety and stability.

All parents are wise to talk with their children about what is happening in a simple and honest way. They should explain Coronavirus in a way that their children can process without feeling frightened.

When parents are divorced or separated, it is important that they get on the same page about how they will respond to these questions so that children are hearing the same information from both parents. Hearing the same explanation from both parents provides stability and relief for children. It also shows them that their parents are united on this issue, which gives them a sense of safety.

Parents can feel free to copy and paste these questions into a shared document and add their own personal touches. Then, they will have a mutually agreed upon playbook for answering these difficult questions.

What is a coronavirus anyway?

A virus is a tiny germ that can make you sick. This virus is called corona because it wears a crown like a king or queen.

Can it hurt me?

Any virus can hurt someone because it can make them sick. It is kind of like having the flu or a cold. A lot of people get better, but some people can get very sick. Everyone’s body has an army called an immune system that defends their body. Some people just have stronger armies than others.

Is that why everything is closed?

Yes, schools, movie theaters, restaurants, and other places are closed to help people not get the virus. It travels between people and can spread. Think about a bee and how it pollinates flowers. The bee goes from flower to flower carrying the pollen with it. Each flower it lands on, it leaves some behind. That’s kind of like the virus. It travels from one person to another, leaving a little bit of the virus wherever it goes.

How do I stay away from it?

Just for right now, we stay healthy by staying at home and staying 6 feet away from other people. Remember, if the bee can’t get near the flower, it can’t pollinate it. If we stay farther away from people, that helps us stay healthy and helps other people stay healthy too. Also, we are going to make sure the house is extra clean and make sure our hands are clean too. Let’s come up with a song to sing while we wash our hands. If we wash our hands and clean the house, it protects us and keeps us healthy.

Who is going to protect us from it?

Lots of people all over the world are working to protect us! Doctors and nurses are the greatest superheroes! They are helping to keep everyone safe and hopefully find a cure. We can also be superheroes if we follow certain rules. By washing our hands and staying home, we are superheroes too!

Can I still play with my friends?

You can play with your friends in different and fun ways such as by video, phone, or on the computer. You know how you call Grandma on my phone and can see her face when she talks to you? Well, that’s what we will do with your friends too! We can set up times to watch movies together, play video games, or even have a picnic. By only seeing your friends via video, you are a superhero and are helping to stop the spread of the virus.

What if I get sick?

Just like always, if you don’t feel good, just tell Mommy or Daddy. We will call the doctor, just like always, and they will tell us how to help you feel better.

When is it going to end?

That’s a good question, and right now we don’t really know. I’m here to answer any questions you have though and I will let you know if we hear about any changes. In the meantime, this is an awesome time to be together as a family. We can cook, play board games, read books, play in the yard, and so much more! Remember, we are being superheroes just by staying home and staying healthy!

In truth, no one has all the ‘right’ answers. Parents: If you are reading this, you are already being thoughtful about how to talk with your children – you are doing your best. Now is the time for parents to reach out for support if needed. You can find that support through The Aurit Center’s online Parenting Mediation program.

Michael Aurit Co-Founder of The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation, Co-Founder of Family Mediators, President of The Academy of Professional Family Mediators and Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law. He can be reached at michael@auritmediation.com

Karen Aurit is Co-Founder of The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation, Co-Founder of Family Mediators, and a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. She can be reached at karen@auritmediation.com

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