Say This, Not That by Ilana Kukoff and Jessica Huddy

Speaking to Kids about Coronavirus

Dear Ilana and Jess: My kids have a lot of questions about the coronavirus and I don’t know how to go about this. Any words of wisdom? - Mindy

Dear Mindy: We, the authors, support individuals and families through all of life’s vicissitudes. From the daily common occurrence to crises, we see our clients through each trial and triumph life brings. Below are several guidelines you can adopt to communicate with your children about tough topics, including the coronavirus. 

     Remember that communication does not begin and end with words. When talking about the coronavirus, use a neutral, even tone: it is comforting in the midst of seeming chaos. It also teaches your children that there is a way to express their worry without being overcome by it. 

 Answer all questions, but don’t speculate. Stick to the facts and give your kids age-appropriate information. If your kids ask about virus symptoms or its status, refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or another reputable source for information. Omit details that are unnecessary to convey; for example, specific death rates. Be sure to remind your kids of what’s being done to address the issue as well. For example, “health officials are working hard to stop the virus from spreading.”

Acknowledge their feelings. Let your children know that you understand and that it’s okay to feel concerned, but don’t leave it at that. Assure them that they have your support. For example, “I know this can be confusing and concerning. But, we are doing everything we can to keep our family safe and have every reason to believe that things are okay. I’m here for you.”

Say This: “I know this can be very confusing. But, we are doing everything we can to keep our family safe and have every reason to believe that things are okay. I’m here for you.”

Not That: “We don’t really know what’s going on or how this is going to end.”

Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: