Coronavirus — advice for children

Over the past few weeks, I have been providing tips for parents and other caregivers on how to help your children deal with the coronavirus. This week, I thought I’d be brave and talk directly to kids, so they in turn can be brave and help us all work to get rid of this virus.

Ask your parents

It’s important to ask your parents anything that bothers or scares you about the coronavirus. If they don’t know the answers, you can work together to learn the answers. Perhaps this means asking your doctor, rather than being scared about something you may have heard on TV or radio about this virus. The more you can get your questions answered, the calmer both you and those around you will be.

Try and reduce your worry a little bit

Are you worried about getting sick? Are you worried about those you love getting sick? Be reassured that most children get sick with this virus less than adults do and seem to have a milder course of illness, as do many adults. In addition, know that every day doctors, nurses, and scientists are working to find ways to defeat this virus by joining together to invent new vaccines and medicines that will make it disappear. The communities we live in have also taken steps to make sure this virus stops spreading through what we call social distancing. This is why you can’t go to the playground with friends or even be in school right now.

The best news!

You can be a hero by being part of the plan to help us get rid of this virus. You can do this by taking control of the situation, learning, and then teaching others some simple steps that will help this virus disappear and keep you and your family healthy. What are those steps?

1. Learn how to wash your hands properly with soap and water for at least the amount of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song slowly twice or the ABC song — at least 20 seconds. Your parents can show you how to do this if you don’t already know how.

2. Learn to cough or sneeze into your arm or elbow, but not your hands. Try not to touch your face, which I know can be hard to do.

3. While the virus is in Vermont and upstate New York, stay away from groups and gatherings and instead use video-chatting to see your friends.

4. If you suspect you may be getting a fever, cough, diarrhea or don’t feel well, tell your parents as soon as possible. If they know, they can take action by first calling your doctor to help you feel better and to help prevent your germs from spreading to others.

By taking these steps, you’ll spread good health rather than coronavirus to your family and friends, which is the best medicine I could ever prescribe.


Lewis First, MD, is chief of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5.


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