First, I shared age-appropriate facts and corrected misinformation. Because my kids are young, I kept it simple. “You know what it’s like to have a cold or the flu — how sometimes you get a cough or have a fever? This is kind of like that. Most people who catch this sickness stay home, rest and get all better. And we have wonderful
doctors and nurses who can help people when they need it.”
Second, I reassured them that they are safe, which is the most important message my kids can hear from me. I know that they take their emotional cues from my tone. “You don’t need to worry. Right now, lots of amazing grown ups are working hard to keep people healthy. Luckily, we already know a lot about how to keep healthy!”
Third, I emphasized simple things our family can do to be “germ busters” — for all types of germs that are out there! Children and adults alike are “more distressed
when we feel helpless and passive, and more comfortable when we are taking action.” The hygiene routines that slow the spread of the COVID-19 are the same habits that help keep us healthy all year round.
Schools closed indefinitely and so did park activities, playdates and a host of routine outings. Like most of the nation, my family is staying home for a while, and this brought up new questions and worries for my kids. All we can practice is social distancing.
I explained it like this: “Germs like to travel from person to person. Have you ever noticed how kids in your class sometimes get sick at the same time? If lots of people stay home for a while, it will be hard for the Coronavirus germs to travel to new people — and that’s good news for doctors and nurses who are helping people who get sick.” A few hours later, I heard my 8-year-old re-explain it this way to her kindergarten brother: “This sickness isn’t a big deal for you or for me, but we need to be germ-busters so we can protect other people — like dada, dadi, nana, and nani! This is how we help.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean social distancing is going to be easy. We are planning creative ways to stay in touch with family and friends — such as “story time” with different relatives over video chat each day. I am hoping they eventually see this as a time when our community pulled together to help others, and had some fun along the way spending extra time with their family.
Here are four ways we can help young kids build germ-busting habits.
Wash Your Hands
Make it a family routine before every meal and snack to wash hands. If you do it together, you can model for them how to use soap, rub your hands together and rinse. For a timer, try slowly singing the ABCs together while you scrub.
When kids cough or sneeze, they tend to do it right into their hands — and then they use those hands to touch everything in sight! Instead, we can cough and sneeze into our elbow. Make it a game with kids. Can they catch the cough in their elbow? In the beginning, cheer when they do: “You caught it! That’s what germ busters do!” If they accidentally “catch it in their hands,” they can simply wash their hands with soap and water and start the game again.
“Rest is Best”
“When you’re sick, rest is best!” Tell them: When we are sick, we can stay home and rest our bodies; we can be germ busters by not spreading germs or going to school sick. And as parents, we can keep ourselves and our kids home and follow the lockdown sincerely.
Practice Healthy Habits
Remind kids that sleep, exercise and eating healthy foods are good, everyday ways to strengthen our bodies. We will all get sick sometimes! They have probably already had at least one cold this season. But we can be responsible germ busters when we practice hand washing, cough-catching, resting and basic healthy living. SANSKAR team wishes you safe stay at home and we will see you soon! Follow the daily activities and tips you are given to help kids play and learn at home.