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Talking to kids about coronavirus

Posted at 5:36 AM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 09:00:52-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Before Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak closed all schools in the state in response to the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus, parents may have avoided talking about the threat their kids couldn't see.

Sitting at home after the closure, those same children may have many questions about what has caused to much panic.


Experts like Dr. Lynn Bufka said parents should avoid scaring their children during that conversation and talk about the coronavirus in a way they can understand.

"Most of us have never really experienced an illness that's so transmissible, that is so contagious, that really could overwhelm our health system," Bufka said.

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"I'm not going to talk about that with a little kid," she explained. "But I will let them understand that we really want to try hard to make sure not everyone gets sick all at the same time -- and that we can really try to reduce that."

Bufka said, with teenagers, parents can talk about the greater implications of the disease's spread. At the same time, parents shouldn't make promises about whether their loved ones will or will not get sick.

She said, instead, parents should say they will do everything they can to keep loved ones healthy.

Parents also shouldn't minimize their kid's concerns and, instead, try to understand where they're coming from and welcome an open conversation.

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Finally, Bufka said parents shouldn't abandon routines like bed times during the coronavirus disruptions.

"All of us do a little bit better when we have a regular routine that we follow," she said.

"Sticking with that routine helps to maintain normalcy in times when things feel a little overwhelming," she added.

Bufka said parents should also check with their kids about what they've already learned about the virus to ensure that it is accurate.

Stay with 13 Action News for the latest news on the coronavirus.