What Do I Tell My Children About The Coronavirus ( COVID-19 )?

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It is almost impossible to avoid all the talk of coronavirus right now. Are you concerned? Coronavirus (or COVID-19 to give it its scientific name) is the virus on everyone’s mind right now. It has dominated the news and front pages of every major newspaper this last few weeks. But what do I tell my children about the coronavirus? What is the most appropriate way of dealing with this news without scaring them?

What Do I Tell My Children About The Coronavirus?



COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus. This means it was previously unknown to medicine before first being reported in December 2019. It is known to have originated in China, and is currently spreading worldwide.

The symptoms of COVID-19 have been reported to be similar to SARS or MERS. It is a flu-like illness presenting with a fever, aches, then a dry cough. Most people suffer this virus and then it is just a matter of time before they get better. There are currently no cures for the virus, you simply need to treat the symptoms.

However, in certain people the symptoms become worse. They suffer severe respiratory problems, and need medical care to recover. The virus is particularly serious for the elderly, immunocompromised patients and people with underlying medical conditions.

The risks for each age group

So How Do We Confront The News With Our Children?


Here in the UK we have had a great number of cases 

The World Health Organisation declared the virus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. ( Here are their updates on the virus) And most governments have put information out as to what will happen if the disease does break out in their country.

Here in the UK we have seen buildings including health centres and schools close to be deep cleansed. And you may have been contacted by your school or nursery over what they intend to do should a case present. In fact, some schools have issued students with antibacterial gel in preparation. There is a lot of information out there about when you should self isolate, and what your rights are if you do need to take time off due to being in isolation. So there are a lot of people claiming that we are overreacting.

Are We Over-reacting?

As with any world news, there are always conflicting reports. News agencies have certainly been accused of overreacting in their coverage of the spread of the disease. At the same time, there have been other claims that reporting of the spread of the disease is being suppressed. How concerned should we really be?

Yes, you can put the spin on this disease of saying that the standard flu has caused a lot more illness globally this year than COVID-19.

However, Covid-19 has not reached the full spreading potential of the standard flu virus as of yet. So this may be a little bit of a skewed perspective. I don’t think we should be trivialising this possible outbreak. Just do our best to keep preventing it.

Current COVID-19 stats

We are doing a lot to prevent the spread of coronavirus so far. And it is only by maintaining hygiene and putting measures in place to prevent the spread that we are stopping the coronavirus from becoming a global issue.

I will be honest, I just think that we need to be sensible and take healthy precautions. Which means encouraging good practices ourselves to prevent the spread. Let’s face it, it prevents the spread of other germs too.

We Need To Have Age Appropriate Conversations With Our Child

My little girl is 4. And so the most important message I have relayed to her is that there is a nasty bug going around that we need to stop spreading.

Most children under 10 have thus far seemed to recover well from the disease, and so I have stressed that she will recover if she does get coronavirus. However, we do need to do our bit to prevent the virus spreading, as the virus can be particularly hazardous for the older generations of our family.

The way we stop the spreading is by

  • washing our hands and keeping good hand hygiene.
  • not touching our faces too much.
  • coughing and sneezing into tissues (or the crook of our elbows) and binning tissues responsibly.
  • staying at home if we do feel ill.

I have made a hand gel holder for her school bag and we have hand gel. (or you can make your own) When we get in the house we immediately wash our hands. And it goes without saying that we wash our hands before eating.

It is important that as parents we are good role models to our children. So we need to be doing all these things ourselves.

For a start, consider these hygiene facts about behaviour in the average workplace. It is certainly worth bringing better practices into the office!

Not Everyone Who Coughs And Sneezes Has Coronavirus!

Children tend to focus in on just one message. So I have emphasised the hand hygiene over all other messages. I think that this is the most important thing to tell our children about the coronavirus, that washing hands kills it! If your child does want to ask questions, keep it simple and do not over elaborate, as this may cause them to be anxious.

They may worry that anyone who coughs and sniffles around them has the virus. It is important to stress that not all coughs are the coronavirus. But that if they are concerned, to stay away from someone who is ill, and keep washing their hands regularly.

I personally do believe that being forewarned is being forearmed. And to just deal with this possible outbreak rationally. If we are all prepared for it, and do our best to prevent the spread, then that is all we can do.

Since this post was written, there have been a lot of developments. The UK  current advice is to stay at home unless you really need to go out. Need to know how to stay positive during quarantine? See this post.

Or running out of certain items such as hand gel and toilet paper? See this post for some things you can make at home that will help during the shortages.

Are you concerned? Have you done anything to prepare for in case the coronavirus comes to your area? I would love your comments. Tell me what you think below, or find me on social media.

(Update August 2020 – have I had the virus? I am suffering from some strange symptoms, which could mean that I am a ‘long hauler’)

And please do pin this post for later.


What Do I Tell My Children About The Coronavirus? - COVID-19 is the news dominating the headlines right now. But how do we broach this subject with our children without scaring them or making them anxious. Here are my main tips to dealing with this tricky subject. #coronavirus #covid-19 #covid19 #handhygiene #parentingtips #childhealth


19 Replies to “What Do I Tell My Children About The Coronavirus ( COVID-19 )?”

  1. Fiona Cambouropoulos says:

    I think we all need to keep it in perspective and follow and reinforce the basic hygiene rules of good hand washing for kids and adults. #KCACOLS

    1. Joseph Soccer says:

      I Completely Agree with you, Because of this Outbreak We can’t bear any risks towards our kids.Thanks for sharing this Valuable Information with Us.

  2. Kim Carberry says:

    My youngest girls school have had to discuss to the coronavirus because they had a skiing trip to Italy over half term and were worried about kids being infected. A handful were tested and all the results came back clear. I have been honest with my girls about it without scaring them. They know to wash their hands and use tissues. x

  3. Tater says:

    My kids are adults now, so it is easier. The biggest thing with us is my daughter probably having to change her plans as she was planning to study in Italy in the fall.

  4. Enda Sheppard says:

    Good balance there, Jo: it is significant, and we can’t underplay it. But practical explanations and well-explained precautionary measures are invaluable at times like this. #KCACOLS

  5. Steve (Thediaryofdad) says:

    So difficult with kids. My boy is too young to understand thankfully though the media do not make it easy. I guess teaching them common hygiene such as covering your mouth when they sneeze and frequent hand washing is the best we can do

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I agree, my little girl tends to roll her eyes when I am asking her to wash her hands all the time. But all we can do is keep telling them and setting them the best example.

  6. Christian Alcantara says:

    I really think that it’s important to let our kids know about these kinds of things, it makes them more aware and prepared for whatever is happening and whatever may happen. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter.

  7. Shelley (Wander & Luxe) says:

    Personally I think everyone is overreacting a little and that the world has gone slightly mad. Did you know the supermarkets in Australia have put a limit on how much toilet paper you can buy as people were freaking out about an apocalypse and have bought everything on the shelves! I will encourage my daughter to practice good hygiene, and keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in my bag, but that is about it. #KCACOLS

    1. Lydia C. Lee says:

      We are being so insane. Someone pulled a knife on someone over TP in the supermarket, another man got tasered over a TP fight (also in Supermarket) – it’s completely nuts. THe same people hoarding all the supplies probably also don’t believe in Climate change and aren’t doing anything about that. We are literally the dumbest people at the moment. Fortunately, my suburb seems to look down on the preppers so I’ve been able to shop normally….

      1. Jo Boyne says:

        My local shops are out of hand gel and paracetamol/ibuprofen. No shortage of loo roll here in Leeds though. Hoarding is a bit dumb. But I do think there may come a time when we do need to think about having some extra in, in case we need to self isolate for 2 weeks.

  8. emma dowey me and b make tea says:

    Nice balanced view tbh. I think a lot of it is hype at the moment but when you look at the death rate relative to cases, it is much deadly than regular flu. My son is only six so hasn’t asked anything. We’re always quite anal about handwashing anyway as i have emetophobia. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time!

  9. Lydia C. Lee says:

    People are being completely nuts here. I just went with the wash your hands a lot at school, and esp before you eat. The kids all have hand sanitiser in their pockets to use whenever but esp after (and on) public transport (and hand rails). #KCACOLS

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      There is no hand gel to be found at all here in the UK except for crazy internet prices. School are starting to take it seriously, with time spent on hand washing instruction etc. So I think it is certainly time to be having these age appropriate discussions.

  10. Laura - Mummy Lauretta says:

    My boys have discussed it in school and have been told about washing their hands whilst singing Happy Birthday twice. I think I am more worried than them, they know that it’s just a virus that the majority of people recover from. #KCACOLS

  11. tracey bowden says:

    I’m not too worried personally as myself and my daughter are fit and healthy so if we did get it, I am confident we will recover quickly enough. However, I do think this panic buying is a bit too much and people need to calm down and think of those who are more vulnerable and need the supplies more. Most of us don’t need anything else except good hygiene habits for now! #kcacols

  12. Samuel Tay says:

    Fiona Cambouropoulos I agree with on this you but we must also make sure we observe some social distancing.

    Seriously, I’m really scared.
    This corona issue is making me sick.
    it has collapsed so many businesses and tearing apart so many economies.
    I really hope a vaccine is found soon

    anyway I love you blog post

  13. John Gatesby says:

    Children in my family have been responding with responsibility, even better than adults at times. They all sanitize themselves when they come from outside and sanitize each and everything that has been purchased from shops or online. But sometimes it is difficult to dissuade them from venturing out too much.


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