Coronavirus: How parents should talk to their kids about the unfolding crisis

How to explain what is going on

March 16 2020

The scenes of the world reacting to the coronavirus have been difficult for adults to process, let alone children.

So exactly how should parents explain to their kids what is going on?

Weekend Sunrise invited parenting experts, Maggie Dent and Dr Vanessa LaPointe, to share their advice.

“Parents need to be that big, safe, calm grownup - exactly the same as during any adverse event,” Dent said.

“Your next job is to give them enough information that’s age-appropriate. So you can explain to them that this is a very nasty virus - however 80 per cent of people will get it very mildly.

“It’s also not impacting children as much - so that’s really an important message for kids: ‘it’s not coming for you, but it is coming for those who have health challenges and our elderly’.


Maggie Dent

Maggie Dent


“To give kids agency and not let them feel so powerless, you really need to nail home the handwashing and the proper techniques - with singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and how long to wash for.

“When you give them that, then they can also remind the grownups who can get a bit slack.

“Secondly, our schools are running out of soap - so make sure to send some extra with your kids.

“Finally, ask them if they know of any elderly people who we can support in the community.

“But avoid the ‘P’ words - whether it’s poop, pandemic or panic.”



World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend cleaning your hands to protect against infection.

Protect yourself

  • Clean your hands regularly.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them thoroughly.
  • Use alcohol-based handrub if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.

How do I wash my hands properly?

Washing your hands properly takes about as long as singing "Happy Birthday" twice,
using the images above.

Watch: 7 simple steps to prevent the spread of Coronavirus

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