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August 12, 2020: Talking to Your Child About Returning to School
With the start of the school year right around the corner, it is important to put measures into place to keep your child healthy, educated, and socialized – no matter what your plan moving into the school year may be. Although there are a number of unknowns and quickly changing regulations, having conversations with your child about COVID-19, school, and safety can help them feel empowered as they step into their new normal routine. Below are a few tips for talking to your child about the upcoming school year.
TEACH & REINFORCE EVERYDAY PREVENTIVE ACTIONS
- Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
- Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, your child is more likely to do the same. Make handwashing a family activity.
- Children 2 years and older should wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in public settings. Discuss how wearing a face covering can help to stop the spread of COVID-19. Practice wearing a mask together at home so that your child is ready to wear it at school.
- Try out the below child-friendly experiment that teaches kids about germs and handwashing.
TALKING ABOUT COVID-19
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to talk to their children about the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that they can understand and that filters information to be age-appropriate. Below are some tips that can help:
Provide Reassurance: Remind your child that there are many people out there – such as doctors and researchers – working to learn about the virus and keep them safe. If your child asks the same question over and over again, they may be looking for reassurance or a better understanding. Be prepared to repeat information and explanations.
Discuss What They Can Control: This can be a great time to help kids understand what they can do to help prevent the spread of the virus and to stay healthy – discuss hand washing, using a tissue or sleeve when they cough, wearing a face mask, eating healthy foods, and going to bed on time every night.
Validate Their Feelings: As children express their concerns, make an effort to validate their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to what is happening around them. Show interest in their questions and let them know you think their questions are important and appropriate.
Answer Questions Honestly: Provide information that is truthful and appropriate for their age level. Explain how some stories on the internet or social media can be based on rumors or inaccurate information. Avoid making unrealistic promises.
Watch for Non-Verbal Communication: Your child may show signs of stress before they verbalize their feelings. Keep an eye out for changes in their eating and sleeping habits, attention, concentration, or mood. Children who are preoccupied with concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak should be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional. Ask your child’s pediatrician, family physician, or school counselor to help arrange an appropriate referral.
HELP YOUR CHILD STAY SOCIALLY CONNECTED
- Reach out to loved ones by phone or video chat on a weekly basis.
- Write cards or letters to family members they may not be able to visit.
- Schedule a special virtual appearance by grandparents or loved ones for bedtime stories, game night, or dinner time.
- Some schools and non-profits, such as the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning and The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, have resources for social and emotional learning. Check to see if your school has tips and guidelines to help support social and emotional needs of your child.
This content is provided to you by GPA.