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Coronavirus is Scary, But That Doesn’t Mean Parents Shouldn’t Talk to Their Kids About It

Photo: Matthew Peddie

A lot of messages about coronavirus are coming out on a daily, if not an hourly basis.

And young children who are hearing it may not know how to process the information.

Kimberly Renk is a child psychology professor at the University of Central Florida. She says parents can help organize those feelings so their kids don’t internalize the stress.

“Young children often blame themselves for things that are unfolding or restrictions that are put on them at this point,” Renk said.

She says it’s important to have honest conversations about the pandemic, appropriate to a child’s age.

But the UCF professor says parents first need to ask a few questions about how the pandemic is affecting them.

“Am I having a struggle? Do I need to do anything for me to be more effective with my children? And then take care of themselves first, and that then puts them in a safe place where they can then help their children manage whatever feelings they are having,” Renk said.

She adds there’s no playbook for parents dealing with the unprecedented situations brought on by coronavirus. Parents should trust themselves, she says, as they know their children best.

Renk shared her advice earlier Tuesday on “The State We’re In” — a Facebook Live show from WUSF and WMFE in Orlando.

To see the full conversation and more of her advice, watch here:

About the show: Every Tuesday at noon, WMFE and WUSF bring you “The State We’re In”. We look at how the pandemic is reshaping the I-4 corridor. You’ll connect with health care experts, economic analysts, civic leaders and people experiencing the pandemic just like you. Join us on WMFE and WUSF‘s Facebook pages.

This story is produced in partnership with America Amplified, an initiative using community engagement to inform local journalism. It is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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