How to Keep Your Kids Healthy From the Coronavirus
The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has landed in the United States and is spreading quickly. The good news is that kids generally seem to experience only mild cases of the virus, which can be very dangerous for elderly and immune-compromised individuals. The bad news is, kids can spread the virus to family and friends. For that reason, states across the country are closing schools and asking all of us to practice social distancing.
As parents, we want to do as much as we can to protect our kiddos. Unfortunately, most of us can’t completely zip into a bubble and wait this out. But we can practice the healthy habits listed here, and encourage our kiddos to do the same. Together, we can slow the spread of coronavirus.
Staying Safe and Healthy
Good hygiene is one of the best ways to keep you and your child healthy during the coronavirus outbreak. What can you teach, encourage, and remind your kids to do right now to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus?
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds: Lather up and tell your kids to sing the Happy Birthday song or their ABCs twice while washing to make sure they hit 20 seconds. Wash your hands at the same time to emphasize the importance of this habit. Bring along hand sanitizer and wipes for when you don’t have easy access to soap and warm running water.
- Cover mouths when sneezing or coughing: Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the coronavirus is spread when respiratory droplets from an infected person make their way to others. That’s why it’s so important to cover sneezes and coughs. Teach your kids to sneeze and cough into a tissue, or use the inside of their elbow if no other option is available. Encourage them by following the same behavior.
- Avoid crowded (and most public) places – even outdoor playgrounds: Lots of people in relatively small places mean plenty of potential for exposure. To slow the spread of this virus, we all need to avoid crowded places and wash our hands thoroughly after touching surfaces in public places. Some experts are recommending families avoid all indoor playspaces and playdates, and are even suggesting we be very wary of playing on public play equipment, as the virus might be able to survive for up to nine days on the outdoor equipment.
- Discourage touching eyes and noses:Â Bacteria thrives on hands, so when your kids rub their eyes or pick their noses, they’re putting germs into vulnerable areas. Show them how to use tissues to wipe their eyes and noses or to wash hands before touching their faces. It can take a long time for your kids to learn this type of behavior, but it’s still worth it to teach them.
- Don’t share silverware, plates, or cups: Viruses can survive for extended periods outside human bodies, and they’re easy to pick up when eating. To avoid accidentally sipping from someone else’s cup, put them in the dishwasher immediately after use.
- Eat, play, and sleep well: Exercise, a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, and a good night’s sleep can all help boost the immune system. Make sure your kiddos are following these healthy behaviors to keep them as illness free as possible.
- Avoid sick friends and family: During this pandemic it’s essential that sick people stay home when ill so as to not spread this potentially-lethal disease to others. Keep your kids home when they are ill, andÂ protect your kids by keeping your distance from people who are already sick.
- Praise good behavior: Let your kids know they’re doing a great job every time you see them engaging in one of these healthy behaviors. It can take a while to create healthy habits, so you should also provide plenty of gentle and encouraging reminders, too.
Although kids seem to get relatively mild cases of COVID-19, it’s still essential to call your doctor if your child shows any of these common signs of the virus:
- Dry cough and shortness of breath
- Exhaustion and body aches
Remember that anyone can get coronavirus, and we need to support each other (from a safe distance!) as much as possible during this outbreak. Stay heathy, families!
Katie Quirk is a mom of two, a boy and a girl. She lives and writes in Seattle, WA.