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How To Talk To Your Kids About Halloween And COVID-19

Halloween jack o'lanterns. <A HREF="">Peter Kvetny/Unsplash</A>
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Los Angeles County has widespread transmission of the coronavirus, so health officials say door to door trick-or-treating is out. But you can celebrate at home with candy scavenger hunts and Zoom parties. That may be easy for adults to understand, but how do you explain it to kids?

“A lot of the time when there is an event like this, we feel that it is our responsibility to shelter our kids and to not expose them to what is going on, and that is a mistake,” said Dr. Rita Burke, a USC professor who specializes in childhood trauma and public health.

Burke said explaining to children why Halloween will be different this year, and answering their questions, is key.

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“Kids are completely capable of understanding why we’re doing something, and why we are making the decisions that we’re making, as long as we explain it to them in a developmentally appropriate fashion,” Bure said.

The Mayo Clinic recommends using simple language to talk to young children:

  • Define what it is. COVID-19 is caused by a germ (virus) that can make the body sick. People who have COVID-19 may have a cough, fever and trouble taking deep breaths. But some people, especially kids, who have the virus may not feel sick at all or may have mild symptoms such as those of a cold.
  • Explain how it spreads. Most commonly, the virus that causes COVID-19 enters people's bodies when it's on their hands and they touch their mouths, noses or eyes. A virus is so tiny that you can't see it. This is why it's important to wash your hands often and try not to touch your mouth, nose or eyes. If someone who has the infection coughs or sneezes on you from a close distance — closer than six feet — that also can spread the virus.
  • Talk about what's being done. You're hearing so much about COVID-19 because it's a new illness that has not been seen before. Experts around the world are working hard every day to learn about COVID-19 and how to keep people safe.

Burke says it’s a great opportunity to teach kids about empathy.
“We’re doing this because we have empathy and we care about other people, we don’t want other people to get sick or anyone else in our family to get sick, like grandma or grandpa. So Halloween is going to be a little bit different this year, and that’s okay,” she said.

Keep in mind that children take their cues from their parents or caregivers, so if you’re upset about the circumstances, they may be, too.

“If we as parents make a huge deal about how horrible it is that we can’t go trick or treating this year, how horrible, kids are going to take that message away,” Burke said.

Instead, brainstorm new family traditions with your kids and have fun!


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