Spread Facts, Not Fear — Talking with Kids about COVID-19

Racism starts with fear.

This experience showed me we have to be vigilant! Times like these are scary, especially for folks who are vulnerable right now. Yet, that doesn’t excuse us from spreading racism, or xenophobia.

How I’m talking about Coronavirus

I’m using the following strategies in conversations with my kids:

“Just the Facts”

When I had cancer, I learned that each of my kids had a developmental sweet-spot for handling potentially scary topics like illness. Share too much information, and you risk overwhelming children with too much information. On the flip side, not talking about illness can sometimes cause more worry as kids’ imaginations fill in the void.

Be proactive and positive

Kids feed off your energy — so do your best to be calm and positive when talking about potentially scary topics like a disease. Don’t lie about potential risks in catching COVID-19, but don’t dwell on them either. Instead, talk about what actions you can take as a family and focus on positive outcomes. It is important to remind children that this virus has a very small chance of getting them sick, and no fatalities in the Bay Area. Much of the work we are doing is to help prevent the spread and keep others healthy.

Don’t forget to talk about RACISM!

When we don’t talk about controversial issues (e.g. sex, drugs racism) we leave room for our kids to speculate or take in information that is untrue! It’s important to talk about the ways that fear can make us for associations. Even so, it is also important to question our assumptions and harmful narratives that spread on social media and in the news.

Resources for talking about COVID-19 with kids/teens

The following resources are designed for kids of all ages to share factual information about the virus, and also unpack Anti-Asian bias we see associated with it.

Coronavirus Explained (For Kids)

This is one of my favorite videos for little ones explaining that while the COVID-19 is usually mild for kids, it can get grandparents really sick. She also does a really good job of showing how virus germs spread.

Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus

This is a great online comic and also a Zine for all ages. Print it out or view it online. It is also available in Chinese!

Coronavirus

Here’s a video explaining how the disease can spread from Brain Pop

Quick Facts on Coronavirus with Dr. Pak

This video from the SF Department of Public Health shares information on the illness and even some suggested alternatives to hand-shakes!

Coronavirus Prevention Slideshow

This slideshow created by SFUSD educators contains some great content on handwashing…

Science > Rumors The basics of COVID-19 (A lesson for middle school students on preparing for the coronavirus in NYC)

This wonderful slideshow was created by Andy Zimmermann and Lynn Shon from MS 88 in New York Public Schools.

When Xenophobia Spreads Like A Virus

Listen to this podcast from NPR Code Switch or read the transcript.

UCLA Prof. Explains Racism’s Role in the Coronavirus Crisis

This is a great video to watch with your upper elementary through high school kids.

Treating Yellow Peril: Resources to Address Coronavirus Racism

This jam-packed list of resources was compiled by Jason Oliver Chang (twitter @chinotronic), Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut.

Let’s spread information, not fear! Do you know of any other great resources to share? Please post them in the comments below!

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mom of twins. education nerd. public school warrior. reformed cat-lady. amateur urbanist. social justice addict. BLERD. & most recently Board of Ed Commissioner

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Alison M Collins

Alison M Collins

mom of twins. education nerd. public school warrior. reformed cat-lady. amateur urbanist. social justice addict. BLERD. & most recently Board of Ed Commissioner