What are other parents telling their kids about COVID-19?

We’re pretty open with our daughter. She’s turning four at the end of the month, but when she asks questions, we answer them. We try to be simple and clear, but we don’t hide anything. We don’t try to come up with some foofy made-up explanation just because of her question being uncomfortable or complicated. We’ve dealt a little bit with death and questions about our bodies. She’s little, but she still deserves the truth. 

With that being said, it was hard to find a way to explain COVID-19 clearly to her. I told her there’s a virus that’s making people sick so we can’t get close to others. It’s safest for us to stay home. Whether or not she understands the meaning, she now knows the word “virus” and I think she’s a little worried. She can’t see her friends from daycare. Do they have the virus? She can’t go to Pop Pop’s house. Does he have the virus? 

When Ohio’s governor issued the stay-at-home order a few weeks ago, she didn’t seem to notice right away, but she eventually started to notice that she’s not at daycare and I’m not at work. It’s just been hard to find a simple way to explain everything to her so she understands. We don’t sugarcoat things, but I don’t want to freak her out either. We now have friends, acquaintances, and coworkers that are sick, and I want to be honest with her.

So I’m asking for advice, input, opinions, suggestions, etc. What have you told your kids? How do you explain what’s going on in the world right now?


  1. tardigrada says

    We take the honest approach too. Our daughter just turned 3 and she already knew about good and bad “bugs” (we’re both biologists and I’m a microbiologist, so yeah). We tell her that there are bugs that probably won’t make her sick, but can be really bad for others, especially older people like her (great)grandparents. As she is getting a bit anxious, we try to emphasize that we won’t make people sick if we stay away from them for a bit.
    I think there’s not much more we could tell her without making her more worried and it going way over her head. She doesn’t like doing anything without a good enough explanation though, so we never had the choice of not telling her either.

  2. Dr Sarah says

    I don’t think my experience is much help to you as our children are significantly older at ages 15 and 12, so obviously they understand a lot more of what’s going on and have mostly picked things up from listening to the news when my husband has it on. I’ve answered all questions as they come up.

    I agree that being honest, within the limits of what your child can actually understand and deal with at her age, is the best way to go. Kids do pick up on when adults are evading their questions/lying to them, and that isn’t good.

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