The current Ebola outbreak is all over the media right now. It is an unfamiliar disease to the United States, and many people are fearful about Ebola spreading any further than it has. Even if you are not discussing it at home as a family, chances are your children are still hearing about it through conversations with their peers or around their schools. Children process information about a potential threat very differently than adults do.
They will look to adults and those around them to decide how concerned they should be about Ebola.
Even adults are finding that they are having a hard time managing their own concerns and worries. This can even increase the worry and concern of the children around them. So with all this information about Ebola floating around, how should parents help manage the fears and questions of their children?
Here are 4 ways to talk to your children about Ebola:
1. Stick to the facts!
Give your children accurate information about what Ebola is, what is currently happening, and the likelihood of them getting it.
Make sure that the information you are giving them is age appropriate as well. Older children may have more questions about the disease itself while younger children may be more concerned about getting sick at school. Emphasize that it is not like the cold or flu and that is hard to spread from person to person.
If you do not know the answers to their questions, this is a perfect time to do some research together!
2. Correct any misconceptions or incorrect information!
Children may be hearing incorrect information from peers or from the conversations at school. Calm their fears and anxieties by correcting any wrong ideas that they have about Ebola.
This is a great way to open up the lines of communication between yourself and your child. Talking to them about their Ebola fears could also lead to other conversations that allow you to foster a deeper connection with your child.
3. Model best practices!
Even though it is not spread as easily as the cold or flu, the CDC is still asking everyone to do his or her best when it comes to personal hygiene. Make sure you are washing your hands frequently, getting plenty of sleep, drinking fluids, and eating healthy food.
Children look to their parents to know how to act in times of stress. Show them a healthy and safe way to respond by taking extra good care of yourself!
4. Talk about all of the positive efforts currently being made!
Sometimes in stressful times, it can be easy to forget all of the positive efforts being made. Talk to your children about what hospitals around the world are doing to keep their patients safe and healthy. Explore new efforts the CDC and scientists are taking to find a cure for Ebola. Remind them that you are doing your very best to keep them safe as well!