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Child Psychologist: Let your children know it's OK to feel scared about COVID-19

Dr. Brad Schwall gave parents some pointers on how to talk with their children during this medical crisis.

DALLAS — It's understandable that coronavirus is not an easy topic to discuss with your children. WFAA decided to facilitate an interaction between long-time counselor Brad Schwall, president and CEO for Center for Integrative Counseling and Psychology, and a 10-year-old named Henry Buja.

Henry is a smart kid, who is naturally inquisitive and already knows a whole lot about the virus. 

Schwall talks and counsels people for a living. He gave some pointers on how to talk with children on this medical crisis.

Here are just some of his tips on talking with children about the virus and its effects:

  1. Check-in with kids
  2. Validate the worry
  3. Avoid over-exposure
  4. Emphasize your safety

It starts with the casual check-in by a parent. Once or twice a day, strike up a conversation with your child while they're doing something they like.

In this case, Henry really loves Legos and was playing with them during this exercise. 

You may be surprised by how much your children already know. This leads to the second tip, which is "validating the worry." 

Evan is Henry's father, and he's had several conversations with his son already about the virus and its effects. 

"He said, 'I'm getting scared about this.' It was very real," Evan Buja explained.

Let them know it's okay to feel scared. And this third tip might help -- avoid over-exposure to information about the virus. This means limiting sources like the news and conversations at home in front of your kids.

"We need to limit the amount of news and information our kids are getting," Schwall said.

Don't lie, and give them a healthy dose of information that tells them what's happening, but not everything that's happening. 

Finally, steer every talk back to your safety. 

This means emphasizing hygiene and washing hands while limiting exposure to large groups. 

These healthy talks could help with getting through these next few days and weeks as the country braces for the global pandemic.

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