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Dr. Joti Samra speaks to News 1130 about how to Speak to your kids about Ebola

(Alison Bailey and John Streit October 16)


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – As Dallas, Texas considers a local state of emergency to beef up its response to the Ebola scare, there are also plenty of people concerned on this side of the border.


A team of public health experts is now on standby in the event of an Ebola diagnosis on Canadian soil.


It’s scary enough for adults — how do you talk to your kids about it?


In situations like this, there can be a kind of mass hysteria, where people overestimate the likelihood of something happening, according to psychologist Dr. Joti Samra.


She points out kids are very sensitive to the emotional reactions of the people around them, so one of the most important things parents can do is monitor their own reactions.


Ebola is something a lot of adults are having trouble getting their heads around; Samra says it may be difficult to accurately communicate the risk to a child.


She recommends not talking about it too much.


“Certainly, we know children are exposed to media the same way that we are. So, if they have questions, the most important thing that parents can do is answer at an age-appropriate level the specific question that a child has,” advises Samra.


You can also allow your child to guide what information you give them.


“What this can do is stimulate other conversations to have with your children… things about illnesses… death, possibly, if children are raising those questions,” says Samra.


She tells us the likelihood of a child being outright scared and perhaps having nightmares is very low.


Samra notes it could happen for a child who is already struggling with anxiety, or who worries about other areas of their life. “In that situation, what you want to do is target the source of the other anxiety that is coming up because of Ebola.”


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