Talking to our kids about Covid-19 is an important and delicate thing most Kiwi parents are doing this week. As we all head into lockdown from midnight tonight, our team has scoured the best advice globally and distilled it into the Top 5 tips below for kids under 13.

1.     Listen
Start by inviting your child to talk about the issue. They might be watching the news on the TV. You might say, “What do you think about this?” or “What have they told you at school”. Find out how much they know and follow their lead. If they are younger they may not even be aware of the outbreak so you may not need to raise the issue directly– just take the chance to remind them about good hygiene, but do this without introducing fear.

Don’t minimise or avoid their concerns. It is important to acknowledge how they are feeling and teach them that it is okay if they feel scared. Tell (and encourage) them to talk to you whenever they need to. One of the best ways your faith can come to life right now is to pray with them on the spot anytime fear or anxiety rears up. Show them the way to Jesus. Play Christian music in your home and watch that shape the atmosphere!

2.     Tell them the truth in a ‘child-friendly’ way
Kids want to know the truth of what is going on in the world around them, but we also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress by not revealing too much information or letting them watch the news for hours and hours on end. Be sure to share the positive side of the news too. The stories of people helping others, the global efforts being done to ensure we stamp this virus out once and for all and the critical part your family plays in making sure we all come out stronger after lockdown.

3.     Teach them how to have good hygiene
One of the best, most effective ways to talk to your your child about Covid-19 is to simply encourage handwashing with soap, covering their coughs and sneezing into their elbow. Teach them to wash their hands by singing the Happy Birthday song ot consider including a reward chart line item for good hygiene!  

4.     Maintain some form of normality
Keep to some kind of “schedule” as much as possible and include the kids in the creation of this! Ask them what success looks like for them during the next month? Is it 30 min with you every day? Is it lots of outdoor time? Set meal and snack times so they know when food is coming.

5.     Take care of yourself
You’ll be able to help your kids better if you’re coping too. Children pick up on our responses and reactions. They need to know that we are calm, positive and in control. It will help them feel the same. If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take some time for yourself, call a friend or a family member. Do a devotional, read the word and lean into God who will give you peace amongst the storm.  Perhaps even consider doing a regular devotional with your family each day before having a healthy chat about how everybody is doing.

Onwards and upwards.
We are in this together!

Kia Kaha
Be Strong.

Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift my eyes to the hills – from where will be help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.



Written by Grace Stanton and Helen Manson for Tearfund New Zealand.
Image from Compassion International

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