Let’s be honest, children can be…stubborn. They need a lot of guidance, and help being persuaded to take new information on board. Bring this into a COVID-19 context, where more and more children are being left to their own devices (literally), and it quickly becomes apparent that they need some guidance to keep on the right path.
Being at home all the time, or going outside into a warzone of invisible infections, brings with it great risks. These can affect children in numerous ways, not only physically, but mentally and socially as well. In this article, we look at ways to keep your children safe and healthy during the pandemic.
Wash their hands
Our hands are the most commonly used parts of our bodies and every time we touch something, we pick up viruses and bacteria. In fact, each square centimetre of our hands is estimated to host around 1,500 bacteria. When you combine this with a child’s natural urge to touch everything in sight, you can see just how susceptible children are to surface-borne illnesses. (1)
This is where hand washing procedures come in. Every time you are out, it is imperative to make sure that your child washes their hands regularly. They should wash their hands for 20 seconds under warm running water with anti-bacterial soap. In the instance that anti-bacterial soap is not available, then an alcohol solution of at least 60% should suffice.
Wear a face mask
It’s true that many of the bacteria and illnesses that we encounter in our day to day lives are in the air. In order to counter invisible droplets and air-borne bacteria, one measure worth taking is using a physical barrier, such as a face mask.
When you leave the house, ensure everyone from your household wears a mask, and make sure that they are fitted properly. This also applies whenever you have contact with any non-household members. And if your child needs to continually readjust their face mask, practice hand washing for kids so that they don’t spread COVID-19 germs to their facial area.
Limit screen time
Your children’s health is not simply related to physical wellbeing and protection from bacteria, but also their psychological wellbeing. The fact that almost half of children under eight have their own tablet or phone, and they spend over two hours a day on them, is confronting. (2)
Online and digital technologies have connected us in many ways, but they are having adverse impacts on the development and cognitive abilities of children. Critical thinking and language abilities are being shown to be impaired by this new phenomenon of excessive screen time amongst children and it’s worrying many experts.
These formative years are a time where learning happens rapidly. Children are observational learners who make sense of the world by watching adults around them, and then imitating those behaviours. The slot-machine like design of a tablet device can grab a child’s attention and hold onto it, inhibiting their opportunity to learn organically through those around them.
Vaccinations are thought to be one of the best ways to protect against the danger of COVID-19 or other illnesses. There are numerous immunisation clinics offering different shots. Aside from the COVID-19 vaccine, other immunisations intended for children include diphtheria, tetanus and meningococcal disease. Be sure to consult with your physician in order to understand what vaccinations have been approved for children, and what they’re recommended to receive.
Keep your child socially connected with their friends
One of the hardest things about COVID-19 is the distance that children are now having to keep between themselves and their friends. The innocence of many children may restrict them from properly comprehending why this is necessary. For this reason, it’s important to keep them socially active with the following steps:
- Initiate video calls and with friends, family, and social groups.
- Have them practice the art of letter writing to people who are not able to visit them.
- Check with your child’s school or online to find any initiatives that help bridge the social gap between them.
Keep your child physically active
Just because we are advised to spend more time indoors, doesn’t mean that we have to do away with exercise altogether. Physical activity is essential to keep your child’s physical and mental health intact.
Be a role model for positive behaviours and take your child out where possible. Try to get into the rhythm of a daily trip to the park, long walks with the dog, kick a football around, and anything else that is both fun and likely to stimulate a sense of physical exertion.
During this pandemic, it is far too easy to let other aspects of our health slip away from us and our children. In order to counter the impacts of poor health we should focus on hygiene, wear a face mask, moderate time spent on devices, consider vaccinations and focus on social and physical activities. As always, it’s worth checking with your doctor about any health concerns you may have.
- “How Many Germs Are Your Hands Harbouring?”, Source: https://www.davidsonwashroom.com.au/how-many-germs-hands-harbouring/
- “What Does Too Much Screen Time Do to Children’s Brains?”, Source: https://healthmatters.nyp.org/what-does-too-much-screen-time-do-to-childrens-brains/
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