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Charlotte Talks: No School. No Playground. No Friends Over. Helping Children Navigate Coronavirus

Erin Keever / WFAE

The world has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, especially for children. Familiar places, from school to grandparents' homes, are now off-limits in the era of social distancing. How should parents and caregivers discuss what's happening with young people?

Duke University professor and psychologist Robin Gurwitch, an expert on how children process trauma, says ignoring current events is not the right approach.

“There's not a child out there that doesn't know or hasn't heard the word 'coronavirus' or 'COVID-19'," Gurwitch says.

The way to begin the conversation, Gurwitch says, is by asking what the child knows about the coronavirus. "That allows us as adults to hear where our children and teens are coming from, what things may be accurate, what things may be totally inaccurate," she says.

Adults should also provide an environment of normalcy for children by establishing routines and family activities, but also allow space for children and other family members to have time to themselves.

"It's very important to give children - and ourselves - a sense of what we can do to get through this the best that we can," Gurwitch says.

To hear more about helping young people cope with the pandemic and its effect on their lives, listen to the podcast above.


Dr. Robin Gurwitch, Duke University, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences

Natalie Moore, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, school psychology program manager

A veteran of Charlotte radio news, Chris joined the "Charlotte Talks" staff in January 2016, but has been listening to WFAE since discovering the station as a high schooler.