It seems like everyone is talking nonstop about the new coronavirus. Understandably, many of us are sharing our concerns with our friends, family and work colleagues. Whether they are overhearing conversations at home or seeing the unfolding crisis on the news, it's likely that your children have heard about the virus and can see many adults getting concerned or worried.

Given the national and global focus on the coronavirus, it is likely and natural that your children may have questions about the health crisis. Understandably, parents may feel concerned about how to speak with their children about this matter.

Here are a list of tips and suggestions on how you can respond to your children's questions and concerns about the coronavirus.

Don't be afraid to talk about the coronavirus.

It can sometimes difficult to talk to our children about scary topics like the coronavirus, however, it is also important that children are able to have open and honest conversations with the adults they trust the most. Most children will have already heard about the virus or seen people wearing masks and will be aware that something is happening. This is your opportunity to keep them informed and set the tone. Don't be afraid to have a conversation about the virus.

Be developmentally appropriate.

As an adult, it can be easy to overshare with children so it is important to talk about serious topics like the coronavirus in a way that matches their age and maturity. Focus on answering your children's questions and satisfying their curiosity.  Try to avoid sharing too much information which could overwhelm them. 

Let them talk about their worries.

It can be easy to dismiss a child's concerns or to brush them off as 'not a big deal' but it is important that children feel as though they are being heard by the adults they trust the most. Try to create times in the day, such as bedtime or dinner time, where the children know they can talk about things that might be concerning them. In these moments we should try to be open and invite them to discuss what they may have heard and how they feel.

Focus on what they can do to keep safe.

One of our main tasks as a parent is to teach our children how to safely and appropriately interact with the world and others in it. One of the best things we can do for them during a time of crisis, such as this one, is to educate and equip them with tools that help them to cope. Try to help your kids feel empowered by teaching them what they can do to keep safe. For example, teach them how them how to wash their hands or how to sneeze properly.

Stick to routine.

As the world is rapidly changing, we are having to make changes to our daily lives to comply with social-distancing rules and to help stop the spread of coronavirus. In some cases, schools may have been shut down or you may have made the choice as a family to stay at home, so it's up to you to keep your child's day structured. Try to create and stick to schedules that children would be used to at kindy or school. Remember to vary activities throughout the day to include adventure, study, play and rest.

Manage your own anxiety.

In addition to caring for your little ones, it is also important to care for yourself. Try to be aware of your own emotional reactions to the current crisis and when you notice yourself feeling anxious, take time to calm down before continuing with your day. Try to introduce a routine for yourself where you switch off technology and make time to rest and disconnect from the nonstop stream of information. In addition, encourage your child to include time in their day for self-play and use that time to take a quick break. Remember, you'll be better able to help your child through this time if you are calm and feeling grounded yourself.

We know that you'll do an incredible job helping your children and family navigate this tumultuous time. Get in touch with us and tell us how you're handling the coronavirus and share with us your ideas and tips on caring for and talking to your children.

As always, if you or someone you care for is in need of support you can contact call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or chat to a crisis supporter via text Lifeline on 0477 13 11 14 (6pm – midnight AEDT) or online at (7pm – midnight AEDT).