Children are being told: Stay inside, don’t visit extended family, don’t play with your friends. The COVID-19 coronavirus is a threat, and children worry about it.
St. Louis institutions such as Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital are offering support and reassurance. The hospital posted via Twitter a prayer by one of its chaplains, the Rev. Wendell Reese. Reese is the pastor at Prayer Tabernacle M.B. Church, 1024 Montrose Ave. in the Gate District neighborhood.
As our community heads into another critical week in the fight against COVID-19, one of our chaplains, Rev. Wendell Reese, would like to offer up a prayer in support of everyone affected by the current pandemic. #CommittedToWhatMatters pic.twitter.com/vNkP0T2VtC
— Cardinal Glennon (@cardinalglennon) April 13, 2020
Parents, teachers, faith leaders and other trusted adults can help our children “make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. The CDC offers tips for talking with children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease. (The guidelines were developed by the National Association of School Nurses and the National Association of School Psychologists.)
Listen, talk, stick to real information
- Stay calm. Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it.
- Invite questions and really listen to your child’s concerns, then address them.
- Don’t blame others. Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity.
- Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for his or her age.
- Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
- Talk about other things, too; don’t just focus on COVID-19.
Discuss everyday actions to stay healthy
- Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.
- Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
- Discuss any new public health orders they notice, such as wearing face masks.
- Reinforce the hand-washing habit.
- Ask children to help keep things clean. Older children can help adults clean the things we touch the most, such as doorknobs, light switches, appliance handles and remote controls.
Finally, reassure children that most people who get sick do recover, and tell them that health experts are working very hard to help people stay healthy.