We get asked a lot about how to talk to kids about COVID-19. And by this point, parents have had at least some discussion regarding COVID-19 and its effects with their kids. Early on, there were major transitions for families moving into remote learning, staying at home, and trying to explain the reasons for staying at home, and things like that. And at this point, in our experience, kids may be asking questions about the end of the school year, when is this going to be over? What's gonna happen this summer? And there's still a lot of uncertainty. And so part of what we wanna talk about is how do we talk to kids about COVID-19 now in terms of where we are today? The answer is, in part, it depends. It depends on the age of the child, their developmental level. Parents, you know your kids best. Are they more, someone who's more verbal and likes to talk about things? Are they more likely to express things via something creative or artistic? Are you better off talking to them while you're doing some shared activity? So the way to talk to kids about COVID-19 depends on the age and developmental level and the style of your child. Unsurprisingly, the best way to talk to kids about COVID-19 or any topic for that matter, is to listen. And we wanna listen out for, what are they thinking? What are they worrying about? What are they expressing? Asking them directly? Sometimes parents are scared to ask about feelings and certainly encourage asking directly about what they're thinking, or how they're feeling about a certain situation. What do they have on their mind about how things are going now, or the future, summer? What are they worrying about most? What do they think about when they're going to bed at night? Another strategy is to ask about, what are their friends thinking? What are their friends saying about all of this? And the experience that's happening with COVID-19. That's another strategy for sometimes getting kids to talk about things, either they may agree with their friends on, or disagree with their friends on. Another strategy in terms of talking to kids is expressing an observation. I noticed that you seemed pretty upset when this happened, or I noticed that you were sad, or I noticed that you stopped talking to this particular friend. So expressing an observation as an entry point for discussion and conversation. And parents, you all are likely more fixers, you wanna fix a situation. And with COVID-19, one of the things that we are learning, we are all collectively learning is to tolerate a lot of uncertainty. And we can't fix a lot of the uncertainty that's out there and what's happening. So part of the best first strategy is to validate the feeling. Uncertainty can be scary, it's scary for adults, it's scary for kids. So a starting point in talking to kids is validating their feelings. So if they feel scared, if they feel angry, if they feel frustrated about not seeing their friends. Validating that that stinks. It's hard to feel lonely. It's hard to feel disconnected from your friends. And validating that feeling is a great starting point. You don't have to fix it, just validate the feeling itself. The other strategy also simple and straightforward is to normalize the feeling. We're all feeling angry, frustrated, confused, sad, disconnected. So sharing and normalizing that experience for kids and telling them yeah, it makes sense, we're all feeling a lot of that at different times. And it's okay to feel those kinds of feelings. It's okay to feel sad and confused. It's good for us even to feel anxious. And so what can we do with those feelings? Sometimes we just have to feel the feelings and know that they will pass. And one of the strategies that parents can use in terms of helping their kids cope with some of these feelings is to model their own coping strategies. So you may not be able to fix the uncertainty that comes with the COVID-19. We can't fix necessarily what's gonna happen this summer, or know what's going to happen in the fall with school. But what we can do is have a discussion with kids about how to cope with those feelings. And parents can model that coping. So how do you cope with your feeling? How do you cope with stress? Parents often worry about showing their own feelings to their kids. And it's okay within reason to show your feelings, to show that you're stressed, to show that you need space or to walk away. And to tell kids, I'm feeling really stressed out, so I'm gonna do some deep breathing. Or I'm really anxious and upset about something that happened at work, I'm gonna take a break, I'm gonna call a friend. So giving voice to what you already do as a parent, but saying it on purpose so that you're modeling it for your kids. Even just talking about, when I get upset or when I get anxious, my stomach gets grumbling, or I get nauseous, and just connecting the dots for your kids in terms of how to talk about feelings. Again, these are all part of general emotional health and trying to talk about feelings. But especially now during COVID-19 and everything that's going on, it's probably even more important that parents are talking about these types of things with kids. And I said before we wanna sometimes get rid of those feelings. And sometimes we just have to sit with them. We have to tolerate them, and know that they're gonna get better, you might feel better in a little bit. And we have to sit with those feelings in order for that to happen. Another important sort of coping strategy that parents can rely on is social support. So what does that mean? So who's on your team? Who helps you cope? Who do you call when you feel stressed out and wanna talk about something? Who do you call when you need a laugh? Who do you call or who do you text, or who do you write a letter to, who's on your team? And modeling that for kids, teaching kids to identify, well, when you feel upset, or down, or isolated, because of everything that's going on with COVID, who do you call? Who do you text? Who do you wanna write a letter to? Who do you wanna color with, or color for, and send this coloring project to? And so encouraging and teaching kids to develop social supports is another way. These are all in the spirit of helping kids discuss their feelings, and discuss their feelings specifically with respect to COVID-19. The point about having discussions with kids is not only just listening and trying to help them and trying to make sense of their world, it's also about controlling the information you want them to have. There's a lot of information out there. And in part, whether with younger kids or with older kids, it's important to teach kids to be consumers of information, and good information. So as a parent, I would say, definitely try to limit the amount of news and information that comes in via the news into your household, I know that can be hard. It's exceptionally important for smaller kids and younger kids that they don't have as much access to the news. Try to limit your own access to social media, and just reminders of things that are happening with COVID-19. And definitely try to teach kids to manage their own intake. And these discussions may be different whether a child is younger, you may have more control about the information coming in, the middle school age kids to teenagers. And an understanding that there's a lot of information, so discussions around how to be a good consumer of that information. And that's another strategy for these types of discussions with kids.