COVID-19: Parenting During the Outbreak


Protecting your child from the virus

Here are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

  • Get family members vaccinated.
  • Wash hands well and often.

    Everyone in your household needs to do this.

    • Wash your hands well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you can't use soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, before you make or eat food, and after you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose. If you leave your home, wash your hands as soon as you return.
  • Follow instructions.

    Be sure to follow all instructions from the CDC and your local health authorities.

Talking to your child about the virus

You can help your child understand what's going on and help them feel safe. Here are some tips for how to talk to children about COVID-19.

  • Give them the facts.

    Keep the information simple and reassuring. Gear the information to your child's age. Here are some basics you could share:

    • Viruses are germs that can make people sick. Right now there's a new virus going around. It's called COVID-19.
    • This virus is making a lot of people sick. Many of them probably won't feel too bad. But some people do get very sick. That's why we need to be careful. We don't want to get sick, and we don't want to make other people sick.
    • Experts are studying the virus and learning more every day.
  • Teach them what they can do.

    Everyone can help prevent the spread of germs. And taking action can help kids feel more in control. Teach your child these things:

    • Have children wear a mask if they go to public places like school or the grocery store. Children under 2 years of age should not wear a mask.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, before you eat or make food, and after you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose.
    • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Put the tissue in the trash right away. Then wash your hands.
    • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. That helps keep germs out of your body.
  • Stay calm.
    • Your child will follow your lead. If you're calm, your child is more likely to be calm. If you're anxious, your child may feel that way too. Take good care of yourself, and focus on the positive steps you can take to be safe.
    • Limit how much time your child spends watching TV or on social media. Kids may see or hear things that cause them to worry. The same goes for you: Too much media about the virus may make you feel anxious.
  • Keep talking and listening.

    As they adjust to these changes, kids may need more love and attention.

    • Make time to listen. Encourage your child to talk about any concerns or fears they have. This gives you a chance to correct rumors or false information they may have heard.
    • Let them know you are available to answer their questions. This can help them feel safe and secure.

Related Information


Current as of: September 23, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine
Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine