The Ebola outbreak is being widely reported in the news media, parents, teachers, and others who work with children may need advice on how to talk with children about this serious issue in ways that allay their fears and worries.
Experts advise adults to acknowledge, listen and reassure children, permitting them to express their concerns and ask questions about the disease. Talking to children about Ebola can help to separate fact from fiction. Depending on the age of their students, teachers may use the Ebola crisis as a teaching opportunity. Discussion topics might include sharing with classes the facts about how the disease is spread, how misunderstanding and misinformation can be harmful, how all of us can help the countries most affected by the disease, and the heroism of health care workers who are caring for the sick. (Source: Dallas Independent School District)
How to help students/children
- Be aware of the facts; do not get consumed with irrational fears.
- Avoid over-exposure to media, which may lead to greater levels of fear and stress around the issue.
- Be watchful of your children’s exposure to media and images that may raise their levels of fear and anxiety.
- Be aware of your own reaction to the crisis and media exposure; children are very sensitive and tend to respond to their parents’ own feelings around an issue.
- Regardless of your children’s ages, speak to them about the issue and find out how they are feeling about it. Speak with them about the facts so that there are less rumors and misinformation about Ebola.
- Take care of yourself by getting the proper rest and exercise to manage your stress levels.
- This is the perfect time to remind us all of the single most effective means of preventing the spread of infectious diseases; hand washing with soap and water. School nurses are an excellent source for hand hygiene. Visit the sites for hand washing lessons:
- Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Kids Health from Nemours