If you think the coronavirus outbreak and the new rules of home quarantine and social distancing have been hard on you, imagine how much it is affecting your kids. They are used to spending so much time with their friends and with children close to their age, in schools, tuitions, playing fields, and other extra-curricular activity lessons.
You might be so busy with household work and office work that you don’t realize how much of a void this has created for children. The fact that they are finding this difficult will be manifested in them showing signs of restlessness, being too cranky, or being difficult to co-operate with. Now that we are gradually learning more and more about a post COVID-19 world and realizing that we have to learn to co-exist with coronavirus, everything that we did earlier is undergoing a change.
With that, we have to guide our children on how they should behave in public spaces, and develop new habits that would help them to battle COVID-19. Immunity wise, there should not be a problem since COVID-19 is not a direct threat to your child, but there have been exceptions and it is much better to be safe than sorry. Now when your child is stepping out again in 2020 to meet his friends or play, here are some habits he definitely has to keep in mind:
- Be careful about what you touch – Be careful about what you are touching while you leave, and what you touch when you re-enter your house. Coronavirus spreads through direct touch very easily. Hence, be mindful of the objects you are touching before cleaning yourself and your child. An easy way to accustom your child to this is to pretend that commonly shared surfaces are hot (for example the doorknob of the main gate in your complex, elevator switches, railings of staircases) and discourage them from touching them directly. So use gloves, tissue paper or paper towels while touching these surfaces. Sanitize these surfaces too, if and when you can. You don’t know what others are doing, but there is no harm in doing your best.
- Carry a bottle of hand-sanitizer – Portable and small bottles of hand sanitizer should be your new best friend. You can encourage your child to use them by decorating the bottles or making nice pouches to fit them in. Ask your child to use the sanitizer frequently, at least every 30 mins, and also to use it after touching any surface.
- Choose the correct outdoor space – Even now when malls and public parks have been opened, the more crowded space is, the riskier it is to go there. You should limit your contact of people to be safe. Hence, if one of you or one of your friends has an outdoor backyard that your children can use, it would be ideal. Otherwise, small local parks are a better option rather than big, fancy corporate parks or public parks where many people would go. Now, choosing a park with less playing equipment would actually be a better option as your chances of transmitting the coronavirus would be lesser with lesser touching of public property.
- Maintain physical distance even when you have gone out – Some people tend to relax this social distancing once they are out. Moreover, after seeing your friends after months it must be very difficult to not hug and play with your friends from a distance for children but drive these habits into their heads. Encourage them to play no contact sports or lesser contact sports like Frisbee, badminton, lawn tennis, volleyball, and cricket. Additionally, play them yourself to show them the rules and how fun they can be.
- Go outside with the people that you live with – To minimize the chances of the exponential spreading of COVID-19, it is necessary to limit your contact. Even while you are travelling, make sure you go out with people you already live with. This makes you safe from getting coronavirus from external sources. Even if you are joining another family or another group of people, please ask your children to maintain a distance of six feet between the two of you. Since children learn best via example, follow this yourself too.
- Don’t touch things in the playground – This is the things children are going to have the maximum difficulty with- which means no sandboxes, no jungle gyms, no see-saws, no swings, and no slides. Of course, these are half the reasons your children go to the park, but you need to be open with them and scientifically explain why you are asking them to do so. Try to make them take playthings from home – such as Frisbees and balls. Also, make sure they don’t sit on common benches.
- Carry the right protection – A face shield might seem over the top, but definitely wear masks and gloves, and carry drinking water. Masks minimize your exposure and reduce your and your children’s chances of getting COVID-19. To develop these habits in your children, wear masks yourselves. Carry your own drinking water too.
Make sure that you speak to your child about all these habits and changes in a manner that tells them how important it is to follow these guidelines, but this also should not scare them so much that they feel anxious about going out and withdraw from social interactions completely. It is a delicate line that you need to balance. Remember that habits take time to develop so be patient with your children and help them to adjust to this COVID-19 world one step at a time.