Behavioral Specialist Jill McEntee Gives Us Tips On How To Explain The Coronavirus Situation To Kids!

March 20, 2020

By Jill McEntee M.S., BCBA, LABA


1 Southside Road
Danvers, MA 01923

(978) 762-4878


1. Stay calm. Kids really pick up on your behavior, from your tone of voice to your body language. If you panic, they will panic. It’s hard right now with everything being so novel and uncertain, but staying neutral when conversing with your children (or with other adults while around your children) is best. 

2. Be honest. Kids have this crazy knack for calling us out when we aren’t being truthful. They maybe don’t need to know all of the gritty details, but being forthcoming as much as possible will help to show respect and build trust. 

3. Keep it simple. Stick to the facts, keep language simple, and use comparisons that they know and/or can relate to. 

For example: You might say something like “you know how every once-in-a-while we get a cold or sick from germs and our bodies don’t feel well? Coronavirus is similar, but it’s a new type of germ, so our bodies don’t know how to fight it yet. We are being careful around each other while our bodies learn to fight the new germs”. 

4. Use it as a learning opportunity. Focus on the positive things like people helping each other, or the important jobs doctors and nurses in our communities have and how they are caring for people right now. This is a learning opportunity to teach kids about simple biology or how the body works, talk about good nutrition, exercise and hygiene skills and how they play a role in keeping us healthy. Watch fun science experiments – like the one going around Instagram right now with the teacher using water and pepper as a model for the virus and using soap to get rid of it. Scholastic learning online has some great online resources for free right now. This situation is so novel it’s a time of learning for everyone!

5. Consistency is key. This is sort of “trial by fire” for most parents right now in terms of managing the demands of working from home but also keeping up with academic and school demands for their kids. For right now, just try to focus on the general concept of a schedule while at home – so maybe have a general morning routine, mid-day routine, afternoon routine and evening routine. Doesn’t need to be packed full of things to do, just broad time blocks like “movement activities” 9am-10am or “tech time” 2-3pm or “arts and crafts” 11-12pm. The most important part is just keeping some kind of consistency that will help kids (and parents) ease into this new lifestyle and that will aid in the transition back to school when that comes. We all feel like we are sort of “flying by the seat of our pants” right now, but having a daily checklist or schedule will help organize your time and keep things flowing throughout the day. Visual schedules are especially great for kids, and they can even help make them by practicing tracing or writing the words or drawing the pictures of the activities for the schedule.