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'We’re going to be fine’: How to talk to your kids about coronavirus

ROANOKE, Va. – Coronavirus concerns are spreading just as rapidly as the virus itself.

"We all imagine the worst. That's what people do. We always catastrophize and so because of that, many people have really high anxiety levels," said Dr. Robert Trestman, chair of psychiatry at Carilion.

Trestman said a lot of this panic is coming from fear of the unknown.

Although researchers are learning more every day, we still don't know a whole lot about the coronavirus, so it's normal for people to fear what they don't understand.

Trestman said that's why it's crucial to stay informed.

"If we try and react as though it was the end of the world, then it's going to only make things worse in the short-term so I think that we can plan for this and the more we plan simple things, we can avoid a sense of panic," Trestman said.

Anxiety may start spreading to your children.

Many schools in southwest Virginia are now making plans to close for a day, just so teachers can prepare for a possible two week shutdown if the virus shows up.

As your children hear about coronavirus, odds are, they'll have questions.

"We're going to be fine," Trestman said.

Trestman said being well-informed not only benefits your kid's well-being, but your own.

"Children, as most parents know, reflect the parent's level of anxiety. If you're anxious, your kids are going to become anxious," Trestman said.

Schools closing could be a scary thought for kids, but it's important to emphasize what you're doing to stay safe.

"We're trying to engage our children in protecting the community by staying home from school, you're doing your part in keeping other people healthy," Trestman said.

Trestman said you should also remember that children learn by example.

"Simply telling your children to wash their hands is not going to be nearly as useful as showing them that you're doing it," Trestman said.

Trestman said parents should also start preparing for the possibility of their children having to stay at home for two weeks, should schools shut down.

About the Author:

Jessica anchors 10 News on Saturdays and Sundays at 6 and 11 p.m. You can also catch her reporting during the week.