Here are some guidelines from GSUSA
for talking to your girl about COVID-19:
Rule number one when it comes to emergencies? Stay calm. But with
the new coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading rapidly around the globe—and
everyone from news anchors to the couple next to you at the local
pizzeria talking about worst-case scenarios—stress and worry can seem
Basically, your girl could likely use a sense of calm in her life
right about now, and you can help.
In fact, having a conversation with her about coronavirus could be
the most important thing you do with your girl all week. Depending on
her age, simply asking what she’s heard about coronavirus and how
she’s feeling about it not only helps ensure she’s getting correct
information but also lets her know this topic isn’t off-limits and
you’re there to support her and help her understand her
emotions—whatever they may be.
Here are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to handling this
subject with care.
DO let her know that feelings of fear, sadness, anger, and even
confusion are totally normal in times like these. Sometimes just
knowing that it’s OK to talk about her feelings can give her a sense
DON’T lead into the conversation by asking if she’s scared or
upset. If she’s not already feeling that way, there’s no need to
suggest that she should!
DO answer her questions about things she’s observing—like face
masks—in an age-appropriate and accurate way.
DON’T be afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers! Unless
you’re a medical professional and highly versed in situations like
these, chances are, you may not have all the facts. What
you do have on your side? Experts who can help you and your
daughter make sense of things. Turn to the national Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted
resources, if ever you’re not sure about what you’re hearing in the
news or what your girl is hearing on the playground.
DO give your girl the tools to stay as healthy as possible.
According to the CDC, washing our hands
properly, avoiding touching our faces, staying home when we’re
sick, and covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue that gets thrown
away immediately are all smart, simple things we can do to prevent the
spread of not just coronavirus but also many other illnesses. Taking
practical steps to protect herself can give your girl a sense of
control in times when she might otherwise feel afraid.
DON’T turn a blind eye to stereotypes or generalizations that
have been made about who “started” coronavirus or who might be most
likely to have it. Sadly, in times of fear, people often look for
someone to blame. Remind your girl that a person’s skin color, the
language they speak, and the country their family comes from has
nothing to do with the amount of respect and kindness they deserve in
this world and that there is no type of person more likely to have or
get the virus than others.
DO let her know that, as always, any and all personal contact
she has with others should be governed by her own comfort level. For
now, she’s unlikely to get sick from shaking hands with a neighbor or
hugging a friend—especially if she’s regularly washing her hands—but
she should know she can always choose to skip those gestures if they
make her uncomfortable or worried for any reason. But if the illness
becomes more widespread, you may want to talk to her about minimizing
physical contact (like shaking hands or avoiding sharing snacks from
the same container), according to CDC guidelines.
DON’T feed the culture of panic. Remember: your girl is taking
her cues from you. If you’re staying on track, she’s more likely to as well.
DO let her know that this is a conversation you can continue as
the days and weeks go by. If she thinks of questions she forgot to
ask, you’re here to help. And in the case that the situation with
coronavirus changes and there’s different or more information that she
should know, you’ll bring it to her.
DON’T forget the power of the basics. Doubling down on
routines, including mealtimes, bedtime rituals, and quality family
time, can go a long way in keeping her world as calm and steady as possible.