Children’s coronavirus questions addressed in new book

Meredith Polsky and Arlen Gaines have published a children's book to help them understand the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Meredith Polsky and Arlen Gaines)
“I Have a Question about Coronavirus” aims to help children with navigating the pandemic. (Courtesy Meredith Polsky and Arlen Gaines)

For adults, navigating the ever-changing developments of the coronavirus outbreak can sometimes be challenging at best. It can be even more difficult for children to process even the basics.

That is what inspired two Montgomery County, Maryland, women to author a new book, “I Have a Question About Coronavirus.”

The book is free to download and inside are simple illustrations, with answers to questions kids may be frequently asking parents and other caregivers.

Co-authors Meredith Polsky and Arlen Gaines have written other books that deal with similarly difficult topics, such as cancer, death and divorce.

Initially geared toward children with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs, the new coronavirus edition is designed for all children.

“We started to think about how we were going to approach this with our own children,” said Polsky.

“That led us to use our already established template that helps families deal with really difficult topics, and just got to work quickly.”

Both Polsky and Gaines are licensed clinical social workers and Polsky also works in special education.

“We do use our expertise with supporting children and families in difficult families… times of loss, and change and transition,” Gaines said.

“It’s how we can help during this time of uncertain feelings.”

The pair said while using metaphors to explain what is going on in the world can work for some children, others need more plain language to help better understand the situation.

“This book is straightforward, with clear language and answered the questions that kids really have,” said Polsky.

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Gaines added it is OK for parents and others to not have all the answers.

“We are dealing with uncertainty and it can be hard when we can’t answer certain questions. There are suggestions and tips, so that the scope can be broadened, to help them think about things and tactics that have helped them through similarly difficult conversations in the past,” Gaines said.

One important aspect of the process, according to the two, is for adults to take care of themselves, so they can be at their best to take care of their children.

“Self-care should be a major focus for parents as much as possible,” said Gaines.

“It will mean in the end, they can be more effective at helping others get through this difficult time.”

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