Clinical therapist offers tips on talking to children about coronavirus

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 7:03 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for many people cope with and it seems the everyday changes are far from over.

Life has changed in many ways over the past six months that even adults are struggling with. Dr. Recco Richardson, a clinical therapist at Hurley Medical Center, offered some tips for how to talk with children about what is happening in the world.

He said if adults are struggling, there’s a good chance their children are too. But there are ways to guide them through these changes. As children head back to school, there are many questions lingering about what it might look like and it’s important to have a conversation about what to expect.

“Childhood should be a time of playing, growing, having fun and interacting with your peers, going to family member’s homes,” Richardson said. “When that is taken away because of a pandemic, it throws children into a different realm of existence. They’re not used to this kind of restriction. So the more frequent conversations, the more honest you are with them the better.”

And in this case, honesty is the best policy.

“Children respond best to honesty and when you’re speaking to them at their age level,” Richardson said. “So say things like, ‘There is an illness going on. We want to be safe. We want to follow the protocol and guidelines.‘”

It also helps to be optimistic about the future and reassure children that they will get through this time when they may be feeling a bit lost.

“Reassuring them, supporting them and letting them know they will be OK,” Richardson said. “There are procedures put in place and as long as people follow the guidelines you will be safe and healthy.”

He said parents should also remember kids often look to them as an example, so being responsible with their own actions can put their children at more ease.

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