With infection rates expected to rise this winter and a viable vaccine still several months away, it’s safe to say COVID-19 will remain a public health concern for the foreseeable future. That means the current life changes resulting from the pandemic are likely to remain in effect for many months to come.
While living in the age of coronavirus is hard for everyone, the ongoing situation presents additional challenges for parents of small children. Explaining the pandemic to kids is not easy, nor is ensuring they do what is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
With that said, it must be done. The following serves as a guide for preparing kids for another year of life in the age of COVID-19:
Put things in perspective – Part 1
There’s no doubting the seriousness of the ongoing situation with coronavirus, but it’s worth remembering that humanity is no stranger to deadly pandemics. We’ve overcome them before, and we will do so again. In other words, rather than make it seem like the end of the world, teach them that it’s business as usual. While some parents might be hesitant to normalise the situation, doing so will help kids to see the pandemic as an opportunity to do their part, rather than a scary monster out to get them.
Prioritise proper hygiene
One of the more pragmatic items for parents to prioritize during the ongoing pandemic is proper hygiene. Teaching kids how to properly wash their hands is crucial, but it doesn’t stop there. Children have a bad habit of putting their fingers in their mouths, which significantly increases the chances of spreading viral infection. Even if it means teaching them to stop thumb sucking, getting kids to keep their hands away from their faces is more important than ever in the age of COVID-19.
Make it a game
A deadly disease is nothing to joke about, but that doesn’t mean parents can’t find ways to lighten the mood in their efforts to teach children about life during the pandemic. We suggest turning the situation into a game of sorts. Their mission is to kill germs and stop their spread. It’s not unlike a video game. While it’s important to make sure kids appreciate the real-world threat presented by COVID-19, portraying it as a game effectively garners their genuine interest in doing their part to slow the spread.
Reassure as needed
The world can be a scary place for kids. A world where there’s an invisible threat to their health and wellbeing doesn’t help. Parents must comfort and reassure their kids as needed. Luckily, this is an inherent aspect of parenting and comes naturally to most people. Tell your kids they are safe, talk to them about COVID-19, and do your best to answer any questions that arise. In the end, remind them of the inevitability of better days ahead. One way or another, life will get back to normal.
Put things in perspective – Part 2
Let’s be honest: most adults remain worried and anxious about the ongoing pandemic. That makes it hard to reassure our children. Parents need to put things in perspective themselves before trying to do so for their kids. Practice what you preach and remind yourself that the ongoing pandemic is nothing the human race can’t handle. We’ve been through worse.
It’s not the news we want to hear, but COVID-19 will likely be with us well into 2021. With this in mind, parents need to help their kids prepare for another year of life during a pandemic. Hopefully, things get back to normal before then, but just in case, let’s assume we have another year of coronavirus.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg.
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