Kids & COVID-19
Talking to children about COVID-19
Routines! Routines! Routines!
Get a jump on it as soon as you can to create a special “homeschool” routine. Don’t overthink it and include your kiddo to give them control over the order of things. Many teachers have sent home packets, so remind them their teacher is expecting them to keep learning at home. Create a schedule (you could even mirror their school day or just shorten it into a couple “genius hours”) that incorporates time for math, reading, writing, physical activity, and of course time to be outside and work on a passion project. With the academic times, these can also be simply writing a letter to a grandparent or playing a game like Yahtzee to practice math.
Make handwashing fun!
How to talk to ourselves
"This too shall pass."
While you may have your own understandable anxiety about it, it is important to know you are NOT alone. Reach out and call your friends or support network, add in a daily breathing practice, resource your energy, stay hydrated and try to get extra sleep. Use the excuse of cancellations to slow down. If you feel scattered or unable to focus, bring yourself to the present moment and try to complete one task at a time. Allow yourself the space to listen to your children and get extra hugs and playtime together. Get on the floor with them! Avoid assumptions about who will do what so you can get on the same page, and ask for help when you need it. All hands on deck!
"Technology is not good or bad. It is powerful."
Decide what your rule is around screen time and follow it. If you are worried about too much screen time, simply let them know they can watch their agreed-upon time when they are finished with the “school” part.
Children under 2 yrs old
TV, apps, and computers
Children between birth and 15 months cannot learn from screens. Not until 15-18 months of age, will children learn from screens when and ONLY WHEN parents are watching with them and reteaching the content. There’s very limited evidence that children under 2 learn much at all from screens and better evidence that excessive screen time hinders their speech and development.
Don't worry! Using Facetime or Skype with your children under 2 years isn’t detrimental. It's more likely they just don’t understand conceptually what’s going on, so you should explain and engage with them as they video chat to teach social skills. Video chat is not an educational opportunity but rather a way for families to stay connected across long-distance. Just keep it limited and don’t let this replace your time engaging with your child.
Sibling & family opportunities
"Every interaction is an opportunity."
With most activities and events being canceled, this can be a great opportunity to really slow down, not feel so overscheduled, and reconnect. If it doesn’t come naturally, add some “sibling strengthening” by designating a time when siblings find something to play together. Add some family fun and break out those board games and puzzles. If you are feeling super creative, make a scavenger hunt, create a mystery to solve, do a cooking lab, start some art projects, or my favorite, hunker down and read books! (Actually, let’s be honest, my favorite is the nap I take AFTER reading the books.) This is one is great for sick days and for those fascinated by germs.
We can’t expect young children to truly understand what social distancing looks like in public spaces. Just like any skill, we have to break it down into small steps and meet them where they are developmentally.
It’s important to understand that the ability to inhibit our actions actually comes from a very high-level brain function (executive function) that is NOT hard-wired in kids yet. This is why they need a lot of practice holding back. We ARE naturally social beings, so it is especially hard for kids to not follow this natural instinct of being close to others. Eventually, this will come with practice and an understanding of why we are doing it, but they will need a lot of practice and your help in the meantime.
The good news? This is an opportunity to grow those executive functioning skills right now.
Why are we social distancing?
Kids need to know why this is important and feel reassured that adults will keep them safe.
“It’s important to make space for others to keep them healthy. When we cough or sneeze we can shoot our germs up to 6 feet into the air! If those germs get onto someone else, it can make them sick. This is why it’s so important to make space for others when we are on a walk in our neighborhood. This keeps us all healthy and safe.”