Talking to your kids about COVID-19

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- With many unanswered questions about COVID-19, parents may be left wondering how to help their kids understand the pandemic.

Parents should answer kids' questions about COVID-19 with simple, honest answers, says a school social worker (WSAW Photo).

One school social worker says parents should take cues from kids about when and how to discuss it. Meaning, if they don’t ask about it, it’s not worth bringing it up. And if they do ask questions, keep answers simple and honest. For accurate and simple facts, she recommends the CDC website.

"It's a stressful time for everyone, but time will pass and we will get back to how it was," said McKinley Elementary school social worker Hillary Trebiatowski-Jagiello.

How can you explain the idea of a pandemic to a child?

"Gosh I'm trying to figure that one out myself," she said. "Ask them what they need, and how parents can help, or how guardians can help."

Her school district has provided stories to help make it digestible, breaking it down in simple phrases and pictures, describing why school is at home and how to stay healthy by washing hands.

"They're very short and brief, to get to the point. They're again not oversharing but helping them gain a little bit of an understanding of what they need to know," she said.

It's also important for parents to take care of their own mental health.

"Reach out to your schools, reach out to your kids' teachers, reach out to anybody because everybody is willing to help, it just looks a little different right now, it’s not face to face right now," she said.

She also sees positivity in sharing with kids what people are doing to help their community, which is a learning opportunity. She says this situation could make kids stronger.

"I think this really will help build kids' life skills, to have that resiliency and have such a good skill to have in life," she said.