How To Talk To Children About the Coronavirus and Other Big Life Events

March 16, 2020

How can we talk with children about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) when don’t have all the answers? ChildSavers School-Based Supervisor, Bob Nickles, LCSW, walks us through 3 talking points to cover with our kids when discussing COVID-19.

Share what you know about the Coronavirus & what you’re going to take care of

Children need to understand that adults and their caregiving duties will remain consistent during big life events. Emphasize the care and support that you will continue to give as a parent, teacher, or child care provider.

Help them understand that things may change temporarily or permanently, but that you’re still going to be there for them.

Tell them how they can contribute in a positive way and why it’s important

Emphasize that you’re a team and let the child know what they’re responsible for during this time. “Kids really hold on to that because they need a sense of mastery. They need to know how to contribute to the family, group, or classroom,” says Bob Nickles, LCSW.

Maybe they can help sanitize their room or wash their hands every hour. Let them know why these tasks are important to keeping your family or classroom healthy.

Be upfront about your uncertainty and feelings about the Coronavirus

As caregivers, we must appropriately express our uncertainty about pandemics. “Let the child know about your feelings and how you’re dealing with it in a healthy way. Your children will say, ‘Oh, I have a role model for how to deal with that feeling. Let me cut and paste what they’re doing, and use it to manage my own feelings.'”

Here are a few guidelines for dealing with our feelings about the Coronavirus:

  • Base your feelings in facts. Monitor updates from the CDC and World Health Organization. Look for kid-friendly videos from accredited health organizations that you can watch with your children.
  • Practice breathing techniques with your children when anxiety flares.
  • Remember that you’re mirroring behaviors and language for your children during the pandemic.


Bob Nickles is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and actor. He was born in South Carolina and has been moving around ever since. Bob lives on the Northside of Richmond and hails most recently from St. Louis. ChildSavers welcomed Bob to the Mental Health team in 2015 and recently, he became the Program Supervisor for ChildSavers and Greater Richmond SCAN’s Richmond Public Schools Resiliency Partnership. Bob will lead the delivery of clinical services within Richmond’s East End schools and supervise the mental health team.