7 Ways to Get Through to People Who Aren't Taking Quarantine Seriously

These expert-backed tips are your best chance at keeping your loved ones safe from coronavirus.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic changes to the fabric of daily life in the United States and abroad, from stores shuttering to seismic economic shifts, not everyone is feeling deep concern about how the virus might affect their health. According to a March 2020 survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, just 24 percent of voters polled admitted to being "very concerned" about their risk or a family member's risk of getting sick. However, with infection rates rising, it's important that everyone take adequate precaution to slow the spread. With the help of experts, we've compiled a list of ways you can convince friends and family members to take the virus, the need for a coronavirus quarantine, and the safety of others seriously.

Use "I" statements.

older white woman texting outside while looking concerned

If you're trying to change a loved one's mind about how seriously they should be taking their coronavirus precautions, make your appeal a personal one.

"'I' statements are a simple way of communicating with other people without blaming or shaming," explains therapist Katie Lear, LCMHC. "'I feel really worried when I hear you're going on playdates' is likely to be received better than, 'Why do you keep going out? Don't you think your kids will get sick?'"

Ask the members of your inner circle to share their point of view.

woman video chatting with older white couple
Shutterstock/Take A Pix Media

Sure, their perspective may not sway your own feelings about the need to take social distancing and self-quarantine seriously. That said, asking people who don't share your views to explain their own perspective can foster a more productive dialogue in the long run.

"Asking your friend for more about their point of view can give you more insight into why they are making these choices," explains Lear. She recommends approaching the conversations with a "how can I help you?" attitude, offering your support to the person in need instead of judgment. For instance, if someone is refusing to stay in because they're worried they can't get their basic needs met without going to the store, you could offer to show them how to order supplies to their home or do it for them.

Clearly express what you would like them to do.

middle aged white man having a video chat conversation on his laptop

If you feel like you need to get your point across to help save someone's life, don't shy away from taking a more assertive approach.

"It is hard to argue with feelings that are important to maintaining relationships," says licensed marriage and family therapist Kristen C. Dew, owner of Growth Therapy, LLC.

"For example, saying, 'I feel really afraid and worried when you go out to see your friends. I would really like you to follow the CDC guidelines on social distancing,' can be a good way to start the conversation."

Set firm boundaries.

people walking together while social distancing outside
Shutterstock/John B Hewitt

Even if you can't necessarily change someone else's mind, you can maintain your personal boundaries to keep yourself—and others—safe.

Dew suggests leading by example to show them how manageable adhering to the guidelines can be. Dew suggests "going for a walk outside and staying more than six feet apart instead of going over a friend's house," or declining invitations to spend time with members of your inner circle until they've been isolated for at least two weeks. And if they're pushing holiday plans? "Communicate calmly that due to the virus and recommended guidelines from the CDC you will be staying home and you would encourage them to do the same."

Express your love.

young woman having a serious discussion with her mother

It's a lot easier to come around to someone else's point of view when it feels like it's coming from a place of genuine compassion and concern.

"Let them know how much they mean to you and what it would be like for you if they got sick, or even died," suggests licensed mental health counselor Kellie Brown, NCC, owner of Quiet Water Counseling. "Letting them know that even the small chance that they might [get sick] is too big of a risk because you love them so much."

Take a team approach.

older indian couple using tablet to video chat

If your message of concern isn't getting through to your loved ones, try getting other members of your inner circle who share your views to help out.

"Hearing that just one person is concerned is very different than hearing the same message from multiple people," says Brown. "The more people they have showing concern, the harder it will be for them to ignore the seriousness of the situation."

Help them access resources they may not know about.

older white woman doing video therapy with middle aged female therapist

It's not just a feeling of invincibility that might be making your loved ones ignore seemingly sage medical advice.

"They may actually be worried, as most people seem to be, but are actually using coping mechanisms such as denial to help them feel better in the midst of this worldwide crisis," says counselor Heidi McBain, LMFT. In addition to helping them access groceries, figure out bill deferrals, and getting them in touch with friends, McBain suggests helping those whose mental health is suffering find a professional to talk to.

"Lots of counselors are now offering online sessions during the pandemic to clients in the states where they are licensed, so counseling is safe and easy to access," she explains.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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