Talking to Children about COVID-19

As the world fights COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns and social distancing directives, families face challenges managing stress, talking with children and navigating life during this crisis. Dr. Sanaz Kumar, assistant medical director of The Children’s Guild Outpatient Mental Health Clinic and a staff psychiatrist at The Children’s Guild School of Prince George’s County, specializes in family and child psychiatry and provides some advice for parents.

Dr. Kumar recognizes the stress families are experiencing. Routines have changed, and, in many cases, parents have added homeschooling to their list of responsibilities.

This can be especially overwhelming if one is trying to work remotely and still give their child attention or if they have lost their job and are worrying about finances.

One of the questions Dr. Kumar is asked most frequently these days by parents is “How do I explain COVID-19 to children when adults are having such a hard time grasping the enormity of what we are living through?” In these turbulent times, there is a real emotional cost to everyone, young and old. We even have children asking the question, “Am I or my parents or grandparents going to die?”

To that end, Dr. Kumar wrote Talking to Children about COVID-19, advising parents to talk with their children calmly, using developmentally appropriate language, presenting the facts and emphasizing action steps.

“Talking with your children frankly and thoughtfully can go a long way in alleviating children’s fears and helping them to understand and grow in these challenging times,” Dr. Kumar explains.

Per an order from the State School Superintendent, all Monarch campuses are closed through the end of school year and students will continue with distance learning. Free meals to children ages 2 to 18 are available while schools are closed. Additional school closing details and a list of meal sites, can be found on AACPS’s website. View our resource Talking to Children about COVID-19 and Managing their Social and Emotional Needs.