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How To Navigate The Coronavirus Disease With Your Child

THE PARENTING BIZ – Questions On COVID-19? How To Navigate The Coronavirus Disease With Your Child

Supplied By The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, your child may begin to worry about themselves, their family and friends, getting sick.

Your child may not understand the reasoning for school closures, the cancellation of extracurricular activities, or why they can’t hug a grandparent right now. They are also absorbing a large amount of new information that can cause alarm.

As your child’s role model, ensure you are taking the necessary precautions to reduce your own and your family’s risk. For example, make sure your family is practicing social distancing by staying at least two metres away from the nearest person. This helps reduce the spread! Also, this is a good time to teach your child about how to reduce their risk of illness. Remember to practice what you preach!

When considering how to protect your child against COVID-19, here is some advice to follow . . .

  • Teach your child how to wash their hands with soap and water.
  • Show your child how to cover his or her cough by coughing into their upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Remind your child to sneeze into a tissue and to throw it away afterwards and immediately wash their hands.
  • Remind your child to avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Have your child stay away from people that are sick.
  • Teach your child what social distancing is and why it is important.
  • To reduce germs, wash your child’s toys according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Be sure to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If your child has COVID-19, here are some guidelines on how to care for him/her . . .

  • Wash your hands often and after each contact with your child.
  • Wear a mask and gloves when you have contact with your child’s saliva or other bodily fluids.
  • Dispose of your gloves and mask after each use. Take off your gloves first, wash your hands, then take off your mask and wash your hands again.
  • Avoid sharing household items, such as dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, and bedding.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with regular household cleaners.
  • Wear gloves while washing laundry and clean your hands after taking off your gloves.
  • Be careful when you are removing waste and clean your hands after emptying a wastebasket.

As a parent, your child depends on your comforting words and reassurance to make sense of the many public conversations surrounding COVID-19. Remember, your child looks to you for guidance and needs your affection and love. In a crisis situation, it is common for children to seek more attachment to their parents. This is an important time to make yourself available to listen and to talk with your child.

When talking to your child about COVID-19, here are some tips . . .

  • Emphasize to your child that they and your family are OK.
  • Avoid using language that might blame others.
  • Provide information that is honest and accurate.
  • Acknowledge your child’s fears.
  • Provide facts about what has happened.
  • Explain the overall risk of getting the virus.
  • Give clear information about how to reduce their risk of being infected.
  • In a reassuring way, explain what happens if they or a family member gets sick.
  • Discuss any questions your child may have.
  • Reassure your child that symptoms in children are generally mild.
  • Use words that your child understands.

Are you experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety considering the level of attention and seriousness being paid to COVID-19? Don’t worry, it is normal to have increased stress and anxiety in crisis situations.

Try not to ignore or suppress these feelings, but be mindful that your child may sense a change and react to it. Remaining calm and providing reassurance can help you as a parent and also protect your child’s mental health. Providing a safe and supportive environment for your child to express and communicate thoughts and feelings can help him or her feel relief.

During this difficult time, your child will most likely observe your behaviour and emotions to help them manage their own emotions. Keeping this in mind, make sure you continue to take care of yourself! To help manage your emotions, use the skills that you have built over time.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle through proper diet, sleep, exercise, and social contact with other family and friends through phone or video calls. Performing these acts of self-care can positively influence your child’s behaviour and emotions. This will help you be a great role model for your child.

Remember, do not stress about being perfect! No one is perfect, especially during times of uncertainty.

Regarding your child’s mental health, consider this important information . . .

  • Pay attention to what your child sees or hears on the television, radio, or online.
  • Maintain normal routines as much as possible.
  • Encourage your child to continue to play and socialize with you.
  • Incorporate activities that keep your child active.
  • Get your child outside in fresh air and nature as much as possible.
  • Keep your child’s mind stimulated with educational activities.
  • Incorporate activities that stimulate your child’s creativity.
  • Set limits on your child’s media and screen-time exposure.

Keeping busy is also a good way to keep your child’s thoughts off public conversation and to keep things as normal as possible. Don’t throw away your scheduler just yet! Consider making a schedule that gives you and your family a new daily routine that includes familiar activities.

When considering fun activities to keep busy, check out these ideas . . .

  • While maintaining social distancing, go for a family walk (take the dog too if you have one!); explore a local green space area and go for a hike on a park trail or path.
  • With warmer weather approaching, get your bikes out and go for a ride.
  • Grab a soccer ball, basketball, or football that you can kick or throw around in your yard.
  • Bring some chalk outside and play hopscotch or other fun jumping/skipping games with your child.
  • To get everyone in the family moving and away from a screen, include the whole family in spring cleaning chores or helping out with some yard work.

Recently, “self-isolation” has become a commonly used term in many homes. You may be asking, what does self-isolation mean? To self-isolate means to stay home and monitor yourself for symptoms, even if mild, for 14 days and avoid contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease. Self-isolate if you have no symptoms and a history of possible exposure to COVID-19 due to travel outside of Canada, or close contact with a person who has COVID-19. Don’t let self-isolation scare you! Self-isolation helps protect you, your family, and community.

Self-isolation looks different for every family. As a parent, you may need to be separated from your child if it is safe and another primary caregiver is present. If you are isolated from your child, keep regular contact! Consider phone or video calls and keep reassuring him or her.

When considering how to self-isolate, here are some guidelines . . .

  • Stay home. Do not use public transportation and do not go to work or other public places.
  • Limit the number of visitors in your home. Only have visitors who you must see and keep the visits brief.
  • Avoid contact with others. Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home.
  • Keep your distance. If you are in a room with other people, stay at least two metres away from them.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cough into your upper sleeve or elbow and sneeze into a tissue, then throw it away and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use a paper towel or your own cloth towel that no one else uses to dry your hands.
  • Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider or are within two metres of other people.

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