The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has caused fear and panic in people of all ages worldwide. Even though the vast majority of children recover from this virus, they’re some of the most vulnerable when it comes to fear.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you talk to your children and other family members in a way that’s reassuring but also doesn’t ignore some of the crazy realities of our world. Who else is sick of hearing “Don’t Panic!” only to find the Costco toilet paper supply completely annihilated? There is no illness, respiratory infection, or coronavirus infection that ever necessitates a single household needing more than one package of warehouse toilet paper!
Sadly, the number of those infected with this disease continues to rise rapidly, and the outbreak doesn’t seem to be letting up in the immediate future. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are doing what they can, but we’re still in a state of uncertainty.
Fortunately, there are ways to have constructive conversations with your young children and teens. Here are a few coronavirus basics to lay the groundwork for some quality family talks.
What Is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a blanket term referring to a type of virus. But these days, when you hear the term “coronavirus” it’s almost definitely referring to our novel or new coronavirus, COVID-19.
A coronavirus could be fairly mild, like the common cold. Or it could be much more harmful. Other coronaviruses include SARS, MERS, OC43, HKU1, and H1N1 (aka “Swine Flu”). COVID-19, in particular, isn’t the deadliest coronavirus to date, but the rapid rate at which this infectious disease is taking over has many concerned.
What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of coronavirus don’t look that different than your average flu. They include fever, tiredness, a dry cough, congestion, sore throat, or diarrhea. The symptoms will usually develop about five to twelve days after first contracting the virus.
Many people who have been exposed to the virus will self-quarantine for two weeks, just to be sure they’re not affected and they don’t infect anyone else. Also, the virus so far hasn’t mutated, which means if you get it, you probably can’t get it again.
Where Did It Come From?
Many types of human coronaviruses actually come from animals, like swine flu, originated from pigs. Novel coronavirus most likely came from bats. The first case was detected in Hebei, in the Wuhan Province in China. But the rate of infection is spreading quickly, so that will not be the case soon. From the Middle East to Australia, thousands across the world have been hospitalized due to novel coronavirus.
How Does It Spread?
As with any infectious disease that impacts your respiratory system, the disease spreads by person-to-person contact, primarily through breathing or coughing. If someone is infected, they can spread the virus by small droplets from a cough or any respiratory fluid. Once they land on a surface, someone else can pick them up, thus causing the disease to spread.
Because of how it’s transmitted, it’s so important to keep a safe social distance from those infected and keep washing your hands to prevent spreading the disease. Since COVID-19 is still relatively new, scientists continue to research the way this novel coronavirus is spreading.
What Kinds of Precautions Do I Need to Take to Keep My Family Safe From Coronavirus?
We’ve probably all read countless articles on handwashing and other hygiene tips, but here are the basics.
- Wash your hands — the right way!
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Since coronavirus can spread from droplets on common objects, you don’t want to bring those germs to your face.
- Drink water frequently – while drinking it constantly won’t kill the virus, staying hydrated strengthens your body against coronavirus.
- Use good hygiene when you cough– cough into the nook of your elbow, definitely not your hands!
- Stay home when you’re sick. This might seem like common sense, but it will be harder to combat coronavirus when your immune system is fighting something else. Also, you don’t want to spread your illness or virus around! If you absolutely have to go out when you’re sick, wear a mask to contain your germs.
Is There a Vaccine?
Yes! There are currently COVID vaccines available. Check with your doctor to see if you’re eligible, and where you can get one.
Talking to Your Kids About Coronavirus
I’m sure that we all have a lot of unanswered questions right now when it comes to COVID-19. Even when you personally are feeling confident, walking by empty grocery shelves can cause a bit of fear in anyone. So often, we feel like we need to have answers when talking about big, scary things, but it’s okay to let kids know that grown-ups don’t always know.
That’s why it’s so important for us to stay up-to-date with legitimate information sources, like the CDC or WHO, rather than spreading false information. Even though some of the smartest and most accomplished scientists and thinkers are working on understanding and stopping this virus, we’re not there quite yet.
Try to stick to your normal routine as much as you can. Reassure your children of how much you love them. Tell them how you’re doing everything you can to keep them safe. Encourage them to keep on exploring, imagining, and creating, even if they might still be engaged in remote learning.
I’d like to be able to tell my kids that everything’s going to be okay, which I believe deep down, but I haven’t done that, yet. I may not. I’m not sure what our new normal will be like, exactly, and that’s okay. For starters, our family has been using FamilyApp more than ever because our planned family reunion next week will probably only happen virtually due to canceled flights.
But even within our evolving world, if we keep open communication lines open, and continue enjoying the love and connections with family and friends, everything really, truly is going to be all right.