THE LOCAL NEWS OF THE MADISON VALLEY, RUBY VALLEY AND SURROUNDING AREAS

How to talk to your children

Coronavirus is dominating conversation at home, in the workplace, in the stores and in your child’s playground. Many parents are worried about how to talk to their kids about the epidemic without adding to their anxiety.

Ke’lah Savage-Willauer is a licensed clinical social worker and a registered play therapist who’s been working in the Madison Valley for many years. She has plenty of great advice for worried families and says the children will take their cues from you.

“As adults we first need to ask ourselves how WE feel. If we are panicked and anxious then may- be it’s not the right time to talk to our children. When you speak to a child you should be calm and honest in a developmentally appropriate way.

“We need to make the unknown known. Ask them, ‘what do you know, why are you curious?’ They will know more than you think. Not talking about it can make them worry more.

“Children should know that it’s ok to be anxious. It’s normal. But we need to empower them to make healthy choices about handwashing, nutrition, exercise and good sleep hygiene all of which will help.”

Savage-Willauer says follow the CDC advice which recom- mends thorough hand hygiene as the primary means of staying healthy. So remind kids that they should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or the time it talks to sing Happy Birthday twice through. Make it fun - maybe find another song they love. “Baby Shark” has become the favorite hand washing song for many children.

Experts also say parents should focus on what they are doing to keep the family safe so that the children know their wellbeing is a top priority.

Parents can also consider limiting their child’s access to the news and to social media to prevent them being overwhelmed with information, a lot of which is false, misleading or even ma- licious.

As the virus takes it course, try to stick to your routine and keep talking to your children letting them know lines of communication are always open.

Visit this NPR link for a comic dedicated to informing children about the coronavirus: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-...

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