The following resources were developed for parents by Caring for Kids, an initiative of the Canadian Paediatric Society of Canada.
COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.
Symptoms may be very mild or more serious. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.
- Difficulty breathing
How to protect yourself and your child
Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact. Based on current evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus.
You can do many things to help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses. Encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy:
- wash hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- sneeze and cough into your sleeve
- avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- avoid contact with people who are sick
- stay home if you are sick
- practice social distancing (ideally 2 metres from those outside of your family)
- get the influenza vaccine
- follow instructions of your local public health agency
If you think your child is sick
The priority of the healthcare system is being able to test those who are most in need. Not everyone requires testing. People without respiratory symptoms (such as fever or cough) will not be tested for COVID-19, regardless of potential exposures.
If your child is experiencing serious symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus, call your health care provider or public health authority for further instructions. DO NOT take your child to the emergency room with the mild symptoms described above. DO NOT call 911 unless it is an emergency.
How can I talk to my child about COVID-19?
A disease outbreak such as COVID-19 can be hard for children and teens to cope with and understand. How your child or teen responds will depend on their age, temperament, and developmental level. Please consult our resource, Helping children and teens cope with stressful public events, for more guidance.
There are a few specific things you can do and say to build your child’s resilience:
- Reassure your child that many doctors, nurses, and scientific experts around the world are working hard to keep us safe and healthy.
- Children are observant and pick up on our expressions and emotions. Help them to understand, verbalize and organize their own feelings around the pandemic.
- Find out what they know about what is happening. Correct any misinformation about “this new germ”.
- Be honest, but positive. Reinforce that they are unlikely to get sick, but that it is still important that they do their part to protect themselves and their families — especially those who are at higher risk.
- There will likely be an increase in screen time during social distancing. Be mindful of your child’s exposure to the news. Model good media habits and try to limit the news running in the background. Explore child-appropriate options and watch together.
- Encourage and strengthen existing connections with family, friends and neighbours in creative ways.
- Talk to your child about supporting and thanking others who are on the frontlines of healthcare, and those who are maintaining our public services.
COVID-19 parenting resources
- Making the most of one-on-one time with your children
- Keeping positive amidst an unsettling situation
- Providing structure and stability for your children’s day
- Coping with bad behaviour in positive, healthy ways
- Keeping calm and managing stress, both for yourself and for your children
- Talking about COVID-19 by being honest, supportive and attentive to your children’s needs