Have your children asked you about COVID-19, yet? The pandemic is causing quite a stir in the news and social media, and while you grapple with your own questions and fears, you should also prepare yourself for how to handle your child’s questions and potential anxieties as well.

Because children receive input in a personal and egocentric way, their understanding is attached to the realm of their own experience and the ego. Thus, your child may feel particularly vulnerable and threatened by the unknown.

Young children perceive events in a concrete way, especially during the ages of seven and 11. As a result, if your child hears frightening information, through rumor or media outlets, he/she may experience those events, as real and worry or panic. Your young child may regress and fear separation, from you, if anxiety increases. While your older child, may become more aggressive or angry. All of this is an effort to gain control and stabilize feelings of helplessness.

During this confusing time, try to keep your child on a normal schedule. This will help to give him/her a feeling of security. Then, when preparing to talk with your child about COVID-19, here are some tips that can help:

  1. Knowledge is power.

First, you must educate yourself about the facts concerning COVID-19. By understanding the disease, you can competently inform your child about this illness, without the alarm that accompanies rumor and misinformation. In this way, you will be able to cope with your own anxieties, while reassuring your children, that you are able to protect them and keep them safe from harm.

  1. Listen to your children’s feelings in an empathic way, to keep connected.

My empathic process can really help you here, as clear communication and bonding keep the channels of communication open. This will help you address your child’s anxieties, before they escalate.

  1. Pay special attention to children with a history of trauma.

For instance, if your child has had to deal with divorce, death, illness, or abuse in their history, they may become especially anxious at this time and need extra attention and reassurance.

  1. Never discount your children’s feelings and be generous with your hugs and physical contacts.

An important part of helping your child is letting them know that you, mom and dad, are there for them. They need to know that they are protected primarily by you, but also other adult authorities.

Remember, children take their cue from their parents and look to their parents to safeguard their wellbeing. Therefore, as a parent you must not allow your own anxiety, to burden or escalate that of your child’s. If need be, you should reach out for professional help, for support.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.