When we’re feeling like we don’t have control over something in our lives, like coronavirus, it’s really helpful to find something that we DO have control over. Our children are no different – they need to know what they have control over, especially during times of stress.
There are several things we can do with our children to help stop the spread of coronavirus AND feel a little more control in a situation where you don’t feel like you have any. Hand washing and social distancing as well as staying healthy, both mentally and physically, are all areas that you can introduce some control for your child.
Hand Washing: Let your child know that hand washing is like having a super power against this virus. The virus can’t live in the presence of warm soapy water. You don’t have to use a disinfectant – just a simple foaming soap is adequate according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control www.cdc.gov). Make a game out of hand washing. Create a song to help hand washing last the full 20 seconds recommended by the CDC. Have some fun with it! Ring a bell randomly during the day, signaling that everyone in the house wash his hands – even dad! After you introduce the hand washing bell, secretly ask your child to be in charge of it for a day! He will have so much fun having new power in the ringing of the bell and the family hand washing game! (Prepare Dad for the inevitable multiple bell ringing induced hand washing trips!) A family hand washing event should happen as soon as you return from a trip away from home.
Face Masks: Many communities are recommending that face coverings/masks should be worn in public. The CDC also recommends that children 2 and under should NOT wear masks. Invite your children to create masks for their favorite doll or stuffed animal! Help them choose the fabric from the supplies you have at home. A bandana is perfect! Masks should go right into the wash when you return home; make a ritual out of it. Put one of the children in charge of preparing/gathering masks before you go out. (You might even prepare extra masks for the car, just in case you need an extra one).
Good Hygiene: It’s a great time to review good hygiene around sneezing and coughing and blowing our noses. Have lots of tissues available around the house. Model immediate hand washing after every cough, sneeze or blow – even Dad! Children will do what you do; not always what you say; so be a great handwashing model!
Reward excellent hygiene practices with a marble jar or sticker chart where every great hand washing or good sneeze hygiene earns a marble in the family jar or a sticker on the hand washing chart.
Watch for children who are having an especially hard time during this coronavirus environment. ‘Bad behavior’ often is the first indicator that a child is struggling. Make sure to check in with the child, one on one, in a safe environment, so she can share her concerns and feel some extra love from you. Listen to her worries. Don’t rush her or minimize her concerns. Address each one seriously, even if it is unfounded in your eyes. Make sure to add in lots of physical contact, eye contact, hugs and snuggles as we all process the changes that are happening. (See other blogs for more information if you need it!)
Blog written by WarmLine Member Patty Reis