How to Talk to Children about Ebola

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Ebola remains a hot health topic, and the American public is concerned about what government and healthcare professionals are doing to prevent an epidemic in the United States. Adults are generally able to filter fact from fear-mongering, but what about children? In today’s digitally connected society, kids have easy access to information that may be frightening. Here’s some help to ease their fears:

How to Begin?

When talking to children, be reassuring and calm. If they sense your fear, they’ll believe their fears are warranted. If they open up to you, be sure to listen intently and answer questions with age-appropriate facts. If you don’t know an answer, it’s better to admit you don’t know but try to find out for them later.

How much to say?

Let your children know that your family is at very low risk of contracting ebola. The epidemic in Africa is due to a poor healthcare system and minimal communication. Health officials are working diligently to ensure the disease doesn’t spread. And, the disease can only be spread through close personal contact with someone who is very sick.

Explain to children that ebola is a virus, just like ones that cause a cold or flu, but much more serious. It is also much harder to catch. Remind your children that the best steps to prevent any virus, including ebola, are:

  • Wash hands carefully after using the restroom, before eating, and frequently throughout the day.
  • Keep hands away from mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Avoid sharing food/drink.
  • Maintain a comfortable “personal space” from others.

Just like other past health outbreaks, the American ebola crisis will likely be short-lived. Reassure your children by remaining calm and staying informed.

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