Coronavirus explained to children: which languages ​​and contents to use

Certainly many of you are facing the thorny question of how to explain to children what is happening. The health emergency of the coronavirus is a phenomenon that has drastically changed everyone's lifestyle, causing social and psychological repercussions.

Children are not immune from all this, and their emotional experience goes listened, welcomed and reworked together. 

This article aims to respond to the needs of parents who are wondering which ones content convey to children and which ones communication channelsi use. 

Here are some elements to consider when dealing with dialogue with children: 

  • Listening availability: It is important to invite the children to talk about the topic, without stimulating them excessively. Try to understand what they already know, what they are feeling and if there are doubts or concerns on the subject. Reassure the children, making them feel protected, showing your willingness to face the topic, even later, if new fears should emerge. Under the age of 6 it is preferable not to excessively activate children, also because they do not have cognitive skills suitable for managing information. Nonetheless, if they ask you questions it is advisable not to exempt yourself from answering.
  • Simple and age-appropriate language: Without a doubt, it is important to talk to children in a way clear, simple and understandable for their age, explaining what is going on, broadcasting content in an atmosphere of tranquility e confidence. This is because children still tend to build their own image of the world and the things that happen and, the inability to confront a reference adult, could give rise to anxieties and concerns. 
  • Clear and truthful information: We can tell the children that this is a new situation, in which we are all a little confused, but that we can find positive aspects in this novelty. All people must stay indoors to avoid that the virus (which we can describe as a very small creature) can make many people sick. We can tell them that there are many good doctors who are working to treat those who have fallen ill and to find medicine. Definitely for the little ones, avoid exposure to media information; while with children it is preferable that access to content on the subject is supervised by an adult.
  • Reassurance and containment: Accept the emotions that children experience: anxiety, fear, boredom, sadness. They are all legitimate and congruous to the situation, for this reason it is important not to devalue or ignore these emotional experiences. The adult, in fact, constitutes a kind of container in which thoughts, emotions and concerns can be deposited and processed together. Children also tend to absorb the emotional experience those around them, precisely because their regulation of emotional states is calibrated on the basis of how the reference adult regulates their emotions. Clearly it is not easy to transmit tranquility and serenity when you are worried, for this reason as adults we have the task of recognizing and regulating our anxieties so that they are not transmitted, even unconsciously, to children.
  • Game and shared activities: Dialogue, as well as the transmission of good practices to guarantee hygiene and respect standards, can go through small ones games, adventures, stories e nursery rhymes. The best way to deal with this is through play: an instrument that children master and that allows them to get in touch with emotions better.

On our pages Facebook e Instagram activities and readings to be carried out in the family are shared to spend time together and face, through playful-expressive activities, the emotional aspects that naturally accompany this very particular and delicate phase.


Giulia Laura


*Psy + Onlus is an organization that deals with making psychology accessible to all. For information on treatments and access to support programs, contact the toll-free number 800.91.04.89 or visit the section of the Psychological Clinical Counseling Center of our site. 

 ** Notes on the author. Giulia Lauri is a psychologist, psychodynamically oriented psychotherapist and PhD in psychology and cognitive science. He worked at the Laboratory of Sleep Psychophysiology of the Department of Psychology of the La Sapienza University of Rome, collaborating in the realization of sleep studies both in basic research and in the clinic. He carries out psychological-clinical consultancy and psychotherapy in Rome. He deals with the design, management and implementation of the educational programming of the educational farm "Terra del vento". She has participated, as a speaker, in national conferences and is the author of articles and scientific publications. With Psy + Onlus she collaborated within the intervention project to support people affected by the earthquake in central Italy and is included in the area of ​​school psychology services.


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