Children and COVID: How to Keep Children Healthy and Happy

Posted Mar 16, 2020

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Thank you for joining us for today's topic, children and the coronavirus, how to keep children healthy and happy. My name is Roxanne and I'm here with some information that we would like to share with you to help equip you and prepare you as you assist your children in navigating this recent concern that we have in our communities.

We start with this heart, this concern, this responsibility for caring for our children, giving them our best, doing our best for them, taking care of them physically, emotionally, in every way. We think about what you're presented with today. Our children are looking at you. They're looking at us, parents. I'm the mother of two adult children, and I've done training and I continue to do training and work with children in schools and other settings to assist people in navigating how to address things in ways that are going to secure our young people, keep them healthy, positive and strong.

You see the first slide here focuses on you. It focuses on you as the parent. We have lots of responsibility with regards to how we handle this. We know that and that's why you're here today. Fear, you as a role model, the conversations that you're having, and your honesty, directness, openness with your children all make a difference. I remember when the 9/11 incident occurred. We think back to major crises, major life circumstances that resulted in fear and I think of the response that our children had during those times. You think of illnesses, you think of news that comes into the family, whether it's a diagnosis. There are a lot of things that bring about fear and how we respond to those is important. So we talk about our reaction and our concern is the safety and security of our children.

How do you go about navigating these crisis experiences? When you look back on circumstances that you've been in recently, all different types, do you remember that your children have overheard some of your conversations? Are you mindful of where they are when you're having conversations, telephone calls, visits from other people? Are we talking about what we're seeing on the news and the words that we have in a place, in a way that's safe for our children so that we're not frightening them? Are we being honest, open, telling them as much as it's appropriate for that age of that child?

I just want to say to you that we know that every child is different, right? I think of raising my two young children and the differences in the responses and how they reacted. When we respond in fear and trepidation, them looking to us, to me looking to me to see am I okay?
So I want to encourage you to consider where you are and your emotional responses, how you're addressing these challenging realities that are surrounding with safety in schools and the communities and all the continuing unknowns and knowns. We have control. We have control in how we respond and the ways that we talk to our children and the ways that we talk to ourselves. One of the first things we want to encourage you to do is take care of you and become very mindful of how you're doing first. Then positioning yourself, as you're doing right now, equipping yourself with as many strategies and tools that you can to help you then convey what you need to convey to help your children look to you and be secured and confident that they're going to be okay.

When you think about the corona virus, what is the first priority? Your health and your wellness, right? Health and hygiene. When we put the health and hygiene recommendations that are associated with navigating this current exposure, it goes back to a very basic, very general self-care premise. And if we can just frame this whole response in a context, that is something that we really need to be doing every day, as a way of creating a safety and a security. This is something that becomes a more normalized recommendation. Washing our hands, not putting our hands in our face and our mouth. When we think about how you can actually break it down with more specifics and how we can protect ourselves with our health and our hygiene, how about holding your hand when you're crossing the street, talking to strangers, et cetera. When we make hand-washing and how we handle our hands if you will a part of our general safety instructions, you see that it falls into a category that we're already engaged in. It's teaching hygiene, health, safety tips and strategies every day. So what we're doing is just really emphasizing today the ways they can stay healthy and strong and just putting it into the context of what we're facing today with the coronavirus.

Look at this slide, a couple of quotes here on the slides for you. We don't want to get this kind of sickness. This is language you can use with your young ones. We don't want to get this kind of sickness, just like we don't want to get a cold or a flu. So we're going to do all the things we always do to stay healthy. Do you see how that puts it into an umbrella of something they're already familiar with and it will also provide that measure of safety in terms of practices. What you'll do and what you don't do. And it applies and it keeps you in position to reduce our fears and our concerns about this.

Here's another quote, things you might be able to share with your young ones. We have healthy habits so we won't miss all the fun things we like to do. So making choices about what to do, where to go, absolutely responsible, and then ensuring that your young people understand that we do have some capacity to protect ourselves as best we can and do our part as we navigate this scenario.

What else did we do? What else did we do to stay healthy and strong? Well, how are you eating? Are you drinking fluids? How about sleeping, hand-washing, and again, not putting our hands near our face or mouth? Those are things that we have talked about in that larger context. Now we want to let them know, just remind them, remember we are committed to staying healthy and strong. So we are going to eat our very best and we're going to drink lots of water. We're going to make sure that we're getting our sleep and we're going to keep our bed time, washing our hands, looking up videos for how to make it fun and easy for kids to monitor how long to wash their hands, keeping the supplies available, and then talking about ways to be sure that we're helping them to be mindful of where they're putting their hands, near their mouths or near their eyes and near their faces, coming up with ways that work for kids according to the age. What's most fitting appropriate and suitable for their age and their capacities to learn and understand.

So if you're finding yourself needing to just get more detailed specifics about, how is my child understand this? What's an appropriate way to present this at this age or that age? I want to encourage you to reach into your EAP support resources and your HR partners to see if they have resources available to you for effective communication for whatever age that your child might be. Another thing that we can do... So we're normalizing healthy living. We're normalizing healthy habits. We're going to eat well. We're going to sleep while. We're going to drink our water. We're going to wash our hands, all of those things.

Here's another strategy we want to offer it to you. How about play show tell. Your young ones have been to the doctor. Again, we're putting this into a context that they're already familiar with. We'll play doctor with them. You're looking at the doctor. They come into the office and [inaudible 00:09:22]. You notice how the doctor always washes their hands before they do a checkup? You notice how doctors are here to help make children better? Then sometimes if you have a doctor that they're comfortable with, they really enjoy being with, you can put yourself in their language or pediatrician's mode and reiterate and review some of the silly things that they might say and do. Implement the serious conversations they've had as well.

For example, look at this quote. Oh no, you don't feel well. Well doctor, let's see how we can make you better. When you're talking with your young people at this point, you want to make sure fewer words are better. We want to keep your explanations as simple as possible, very focused and very direct, and it is about hygiene and knowing that there's help that we can bring by keeping these healthy habits alive and well and practicing them on a regular basis as well as having resources to go to in the event that we need help to get healthy or stay healthy. Your perspective, your approach, your attitude, your demeanor, you're a role model for them and you're almost like a thermostat. You're setting the tone, you're setting the temperature, you're setting the tone. You're going to be their anchor. You're the one who will remind them, you know we're going to keep you safe. You have and you will be the ones who care for them.

Here's a little quote for you to consider as well. Remember when you got sick and the doctor gave you medicine to get better? That's what we'll do if you get sick. Do you see the reassurance in that? And see what that does, is it also addresses that there are some things that are out of our control in terms of absolutely guaranteeing that someone won't get sick. We can't do that can we? We want to be realistic and honest as well and the what if's start running to our minds in their minds. But the reassurance here is that even if you do get sick and if you do need help, we'll take you to the people who can help you. We'll get you the care that you need. That's very comforting to your young people.

I know this was a very high-level review and overview. I want to encourage you to be thinking about how you're thinking, how you're doing. If you need help in terms of really getting a perspective that really can bring a piece of confidence and leave room for you to be a role model that will help to reduce some of your child's fears. If you're coming in and you still have fears of your own, or you now have fears of your own and you're concerned about how well you're managing your own before you start to help your children, I want to encourage you to reach out, please. Please contact your employee assistance program with any other questions that you might have. Lots of tips and strategies to help you, the parents, to navigate this well.

Thank you very much for being the invested parents that you are. I want to wish you the very best. Stay confident. Stay positive. Reach out. Get the help you need and take care. Thanks for joining us.
 

 

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