By Jane Kingsu Cheng

Illustration by Ariana Maralit

With so much news going around about Covid-19, it’s time for parents to sit down and have that much needed talk with their children. Not only is our social media feed filled with updates on this life-threatening virus, most of us are also glued to our television sets, hoping for good news.

Admittedly, children are the last on the list when it comes to debriefing—thinking that they’re too young to comprehend what’s going on. The truth is, they have been hearing the words “virus” and “Covid-19” everywhere since it started. So isn’t it better for them to hear about what’s going on straight from their parents? How does one start?

Manila Bulletin Lifestyle interviewed two child development pediatricians (they’re also parents) on the best way to handle this situation. Here are questions you should ask to give your kids a better understanding of what’s happening now.

3 questions

  1. What do they know?

    Like any conversation, it is best to listen to your children first. Let them do the talking. This gives you a glimpse of what they know, giving you more time to comprehend and explain the scenario to their level of understanding.
    Use age-appropriate analogies so that the child can easily comprehend. Dr. Aileene Nepomuceno shares that since her son, who is in third grade, is interested in war, “Good soldiers in the body keep us healthy, and bad soldiers like viruses try to invade our body and make us sick. I explained how the virus attacks and grows using the good soldiers and bad soldiers or enemies. That analogy made him eat vegetables and handwash better, too.”

  1. How do they feel?

    Children can feel the stress from their parents and the people around them, even if adults try their best to protect them from it. Rather than letting these kids figure out why they are feeling certain emotions, we should talk to them and go through this journey together so that they don’t feel they are alone. Aileene suggests, “Try to elicit feelings about the deaths and lockdown they must have heard about already. What are they worried about? What is the worst thing they think can happen? Then process their answers by focusing on what they can control.”

  1. What can they do?

    A better understanding of what’s happening will help get the kids “enlisted” into the program of keeping themselves healthy and clean. “Help kids gain control over their worries by explaining how nutritious food produces more good soldiers and how handwashing also protects the good soldiers,” says Aileene.

    Dr. Jack Herrin and father-of-two adds, “Remind kids how they should take care of themselves when they have a regular cough or cold. Then compare that with how COVID-19 affects all people, even their parents and grandparents, so now older people have rules to follow, too.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (