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Rochester child therapist shares advice on talking to kids about COVID-19

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Speaking with children about COVID-19 can be a difficult task. A child therapist has some suggestions on how to best explain to children what is happening in the world.

Betty Lacine, a clinical counselor at Hope Counseling Center, said it's important for parents and teachers to be honest with children about the virus.

She said it's essential for parents and teachers to be honest with children about COVID-19, to speak with children about it in a way they will understand, and allow children to ask many questions.

Lacine also said it's okay for adults to tell kids that some people do die from the disease.

"Because that's their fear. So, we want it all spoken. We don't want to gloss over it. We don't want to say 'people pass away' or 'fall asleep.' We want them to know, yes, sometimes people die, but most people don't," she said.

Lacine explained why it's best to address that issue straight on.

"Because otherwise, those questions are inside. And then quite often children can get very, very worried about things and they're afraid to ask or they're afraid to say it," she said.

Lacine also said parents should be mindful of what their children are seeing.

"Parents need to be very aware of what their children are watching or listening [to]. That if the parents are watching a lot of news programs or a lot of shows that are talking about COVID, that especially young child, I would say, seven and younger, are not present for ongoing stories about it. Because they will think everyone's going to die. Kids can catastrophize," Lacine said.

Lacine suggested adults read a book to children a book called "Trinka and Sam Fighting the Big Virus." The book explains COVID-19 to elementary aged students.

Lacine said its best for teachers preparing for in-person classes to stay calm and establish why new classroom safety rules are in place.

"The thing I like to reassure [children], is that very few children have gotten ill. Very few children are sick. And so we're all taking precautions to keep them safe," Lacine said.

KaMaria Braye

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