Your little one might be feeling a bit confused at the moment. They may be spending a lot more time at home, or even all their time inside if their nursery or school is shut. And it’s bound to make them feel restless, inquisitive and even a bit scared.
After all, it’s out of the ordinary seeing people walking around with masks and shoppers madly putting everything and anything they can get their hands on into their trolleys (dog food but no dog? It’s still going in the basket).
By now, they’ve probably heard the word ‘virus’ but might not fully understand what it all means.
The Department of Education and skills has communicated the importance of talking about it with your little ones, to reassure them in this time of uncertainty and anxiety.
And we’re here to help, which is why we’ve scoured the web and pulled together the best ways to explain COVID-19 to your children.
Keep it factual
Explain that there’s a sickness bug going around that’s making people feel unwell, and that there are things we can do to stop it spreading. It’s really important here that we talk about things that can be controlled, rather than things that can’t. Tell them how washing our hands with soap and warm water can help keep germs at bay.
Remind them to catch any of their coughs or sneezes. And without a tissue, the best place to actually catch these atishoos is in our elbows! Sometimes we’re not always near a place to properly wash our hands, so this is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.
Make it light
The best thing to do is to keep it simple and use a calm and reassuring tone when you speak.
And why not even use the tune from the ‘Bounce Bounce’ Water Babies song when you show them how to keep their hands clean? Children often learn best through sing-song and play. We’re pretty proud of our lyric change on this one if we do say so ourselves.
Wash, wash, this a-way
Wash, wash, that a-way
Wash, wash all the day
Wash wash wash
Scrub scrub, this a-way
Scrub scrub, that a-way
Scrub scrub all the day
Scrub scrub scrub
Rub rub this a-way
Rub, rub all the day
Rub all the germs away
Rub rub rub
But be honest and reassuring
It’s also important to explain that it’s not a normal time at the moment. Parties will be cancelled, play-dates stopped and trips out and about non-existent for a while - but emphasise that it’s to keep everyone safe. Explain that doctors and hospitals are doing all they can to make people well again and that it’s similar to other illnesses like coughs and colds that people get better from.
Let them take the lead
Why not ask your little one to tell you what they know about the virus? Opening up conversation helps get rid of worry and fear. A problem shared is a problem halved! And this way you can make sure you’ve answered all their concerns (as best you can, sometimes it’s okay to say you don’t know). If they’re particularly small, you could even get them to show you what they know by getting them to draw pictures too.
It’s a tough time, but we’re all in the same boat. So now more than ever, let’s work together to keep each other and our little ones calm – and clean!
 Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children, cdc.gov.uk
 Talking to Children and Young People about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Advice for Parents and Schools, education.ie