While families are stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, children are likely to be experiencing something out of the norm. Having to stay inside, taking online classes, not meeting their friends, and avoiding playgrounds have changed their lifestyle and routine completely. This in-turn causes fear, anxiety, and restlessness in them.
In order to keep them positive, happy, and healthy during these times, extra efforts need to be made by the parents while factoring the important aspect of this lockdown: Staying healthy and safe at home.
With children running around the house you need to take extra precautions and explain the importance of maintaining a healthy and safe environment at home. If you’re unsure of where to start, here are 5 tips to keep them healthy during the pandemic:
1. Practise Good Hygiene
Right off the back, maintaining proper hygiene is of the utmost importance for children. Center For Disease Control states the 5 preventive measures to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus.
- Make it a habit for the whole family to frequently wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds. A good practise is to sing the Happy Birthday song twice while washing their hands so that they make it a habit.
- Avoiding close contact with others is especially important right now because the virus is primarily spread when you come in close contact with people who have contracted the virus or are carriers. Therefore, as a general rule, prevent kids from coming in contact with people who are sick and avoid public gatherings altogether.
- Always make sure to clean and disinfect food items, household items and surfaces that are most likely to be touched more often. Children also should be extra careful while touching surfaces in the common space or items that have been delivered.
- Wearing a surgical or cloth mask is an important preventive measure that should be practised every time you or your child leaves the house. Respirator masks prevent large droplets of bodily fluids containing viruses or other germs from escaping the nose and mouth. It also protects against splashes and sprays from other people, such as those from sneezes and coughs. However, only if your child is above the age of two, they should be given a cloth mask to wear.
- Teach your child to always cover their mouth while coughing or sneezing. It is recommended to cough or sneeze on the inside of the elbow if the child isn’t carrying a tissue paper or face mask. After that, make sure they immediately wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a sanitizer
2. Maintain Social Distancing
Social distancing is at the topmost priority for children to help prevent the spread of the virus. Even when children are out for a while for walks or play-time, make sure they are always 6 feet apart from the neighbors or friends. It is also important to limit their time outside with other children and keep them safe inside. It might be a tough decision, but it is the best way to keep your child safe and healthy.
3. Keep Them Active
WHO recommends children and adolescents to be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day for health benefits. (source: Physical activity and young people) Especially now that kids are less active in lockdown, it is necessary that you include 1 hour of physical activity in their daily schedule. Simple activities like basketball, dancing, yoga, riding a bike, or even playing hide and seek that can be done around the house, in your neighborhood or backyard will help your kids stay fit and healthy.
4. Support Them Emotionally
Lockdown can get overwhelming for children which might lead to increased levels of anxiety, irritability, and frustration. And even though it is understandable, parents should regularly check for signs of distress and anxiety in kids. WHO also urges parents to regularly check on their child and reassure them that you are always there to listen to their problems which puts their mind at ease.
Take time out of your day to connect with your child, engage in fun activities, and have positive conversations with them about mental health or their day in general. Right now, children seek the support and attention of their parents the most, so make sure you are there for them when they need you the most.
5. Reinforce Preventive Actions
Teaching children the preventive measures won’t do any good if you and your family do not practise them on a regular basis. As parents, they follow your actions, therefore be good role models and practise the preventive measure at home every day so that they do the same. Explain to your kids how important it is to wash their hands every time they touch something, return back from playing, and before/ after eating. Follow the 5 steps to wash your hands as recommended by the CDC here.
Above all, prioritizing health and promoting healthy habits in children is something parents need to do right now. We are a long way from winning the battle against COVID-19 but these small steps will make a major difference for you and your child. Be sure to incorporate these tips in your everyday life and for more resources related to COVID-19 updates, you can browse through our articles below!
As always, stay healthy and stay inside.
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