As a parent, public health emergencies like the coronavirus (named COVID-19) can cause uncertainty and fear. It can be especially difficult to address these concerns with your children. When or how should you talk about it? Clinical Psychiatrist Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi answers below.
How you talk about the coronavirus with your child depends on their age and maturity level. While younger children may not be aware of current events, older children will most likely ask questions. By addressing their concerns early and honestly, you can help avoid any anxiety that may develop and stop the spread of misinformation.
No matter what age your child is, you should address their questions directly and in a language they can understand. If they express worries or fears, listen without judgment and talk about the ways you will support and protect them. It is important to let them know that their concerns are valid and that you are always available to continue the conversation as often as necessary.
By being receptive and talking about your child’s feelings, there is an opportunity to address unwarranted fears and notice if their fears linger or interfere with day-to-day life. While worry can be a normal reaction to public health emergencies, it is important to note if symptoms of anxiety or depression arise.
Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi is a board-certified adult psychiatrist who passionately believes access to mental health treatment should be available to everyone. She completed her undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University, followed by medical school and residency training at New York University School of Medicine. She then completed a fellowship in Public Psychiatry at Columbia University. She has also done research on women’s mental health issues. Her approach to treatment is patient-centered and recovery-focused, dedicated to reducing mental health stigma and providing treatments that help patients maintain the quality of life they deserve.