Coronavirus: How to talk to your children as items fly off shelves

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Coronavirus fears have many families rushing stores to stock up on essentials. Hand sanitizers, toilet paper and paper towels have been flying off the shelves.

One child psychologist says this may be making your children more concerned and parents should act as a model to their children.

Leticia Mullen has a young son she's worried about given the growing concerns about COVID-19.

"I said to my husband, we need to give him another good bath tonight because you don't know what's out there," she said. "I also work in retail and I'm dealing with cash and strangers all day."

Rather than take cautionary measures into your own hands, Dr. Robin Gurwitch, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, said the most important thing to do in these situations is talk your children through these situations.

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"If you don't, they're hearing it elsewhere and getting piecemeal information that's riddled with rumors and inaccuracies," Gurwitch said.

She said it's important to start by asking your children what they have learned so far about the virus.

"Then you can listen for things they've gotten right or you can correct information that is not right," Gurwitch said. "Parents also need to talk about what we do know and here's what we're doing about it."

If you have to fact-check your child, she advises that it's important for people to get their information from trusted, accurate sources, such as the CDC and NIH.

"Getting that information from those places and modeling for your children that 'We're going to be OK,' and 'We're taking care of one another,'" she said.

Gurwitch notes that we have to be prepared so that fear cannot get the better of us.

If you have questions surrounding the coronavirus, you can call the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services at (866) 462-3821 or visit its coronavirus website.

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You can also call your county health department. use this link to find your appropriate office.
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