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Lynn Fainsilber Katz was featured in this Seattle Times article about how to talk to kids about coronavirus.

How to talk to kids about the novel coronavirus

By Hannah Furfaro 
Seattle Times staff reporter

When students sat down in Anthony D’Amico’s social studies class this week, they asked questions that sit heavily on his own mind.

What’s going on with the coronavirus?

Is it serious?

Will schools close?

D’Amico, an intern teacher at Ingraham High School in Seattle, admitted he doesn’t know all the answers. He wishes he did.

“Students tend to be very curious and questioning about what’s going on,” he said. “I just said, ‘We’re going to play it by ear, see how things go. No need to freak out yet, make sure you are washing your hands and treating people with respect.’ “

Children across Washington have been asking their teachers, parents and caregivers tough questions about COVID-19, the illness caused by a new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, with its first U.S. outbreak in Washington state. They’re turning to adults they trust for the facts — and to ease their stress or fears.

They also sought their own explanations and chatted with friends, D’Amico said. When he’s heard students swapping conspiracy theories, such as the false idea that the virus was created in a lab, he’s been quick to dispel them. He’s also been fast to act when students use slurs against their peers: At least a few times, he said, he’s overheard students call Chinese classmates “corona.”

“I address that real quick in my class,” he said. “That was not going to be OK.”

Looking for tips on how to have frank conversations about the coronavirus with children and teens? Here’s what federal agencies, the World Health Organization and local experts suggest. You might also find this NPR comic helpful.

Be a good listener

Kids react differently to stress than adults do: They might express themselves through conversation, but they may also draw, play or show their emotions by changing their behaviors or habits. Follow the child’s lead.

Some children may ask lots of questions to soothe their anxiety, said Lynn Fainsilber Katz, research professor of child clinical psychology at the University of Washington. Others may withdraw. In any case, it’s up to adults to be good listeners and give children extra attention.

Read the entire article here.