Here’s How To Help Your Child Navigate The New Normal

This post is sponsored and contributed by a Patch Brand Partner. The views expressed in this post are the author’s own.

There are a number of steps parents can take to help their kids stay healthy and safe as we head into the flu season. (Shutterstock )

This post is sponsored and contributed by a Patch Brand Partner. The views expressed in this post are the author’s own.

Getting kids to wash their hands, cover their mouths when they cough and practice good general hygiene has never been an easy task. But in order to get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic and keep our families and friends safe, diligently practicing good hygiene is a must. That’s why it’s more important than ever that you speak with your kids about cleanliness and safety precautions during the COVID-19 crisis. Fortunately, experts at Banner — University Medicine put together a list of steps parents can take to help keep their children safe throughout the pandemic.

Schools, youth sport leagues and dance studios are all taking steps to keep their staff and kids as safe as possible as they gradually shift back to in-person gatherings. Parents can also do their part at home to help keep their kids healthy and mitigate the spread of the virus.

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Steps You Can Take To Help Keep Your Kids Safe

While you can’t protect your children from every single bump or bruise, experts at Banner — University Medicine say there are a number of steps parents can take to help children stay healthy and safe as we head into the flu season.

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Practice mask wearing. Cloth face coverings are an effective tool when physical distancing is difficult. It’s also a good idea to check whether your school will require masks throughout the day, as the rules may vary depending on where you live. “Practice wearing masks around the house and have kids go to the grocery store with you to see other kids wearing masks,” suggested Wendy Pauker, a child life manager at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. “I can 100 percent guarantee that when they see other kids wearing masks, it will organically happen and become habit.” Encourage proper hygiene. Frequent and thorough hand-washing is a simple and effective way to help reduce the spread of germs. When kids are washing their hands at home, have them sing a short song or count to 20 so they know how long to scrub. It’s also important to practice coughing and sneezing into an elbow and to remind your kids not to share objects, toys, food or drinks with other classmates or teammates. Keep up with well checks and vaccinations. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay on schedule with their vaccinations and yearly checkups during the pandemic. At home, parents can start checking their child’s temperature each morning and begin the day by asking them if they have any of the coronavirus symptoms laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include a sore throat, headaches or body aches, a cough or an upset stomach. If they do exhibit any symptoms, they need to stay home. Get a flu shot. This year, the CDC states that “getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever,” since experts believe it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. The CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Related: Why Getting A Flu Shot Is More Important Than Ever This Year Talking To Your Child About Life During The Pandemic

While good hand-washing and general hygiene are vital as we enter the flu season, Banner — University Medicine experts also stress the importance of focusing on your child’s mental health and emotional well-being as they navigate life during the pandemic.

“It’s important for parents to not only help keep their children physically safe during the pandemic, but also emotionally safe as well,” said Dr. Bahar Altaha, a psychiatrist with Banner Behavioral Health. “Children look to their parents as guides. So, it’s important for parents to use this time to support and protect their emotional health and well-being to help them navigate through this as best they can.”

Here are few things to remember when talking to your child about life during the pandemic:

Keep conversations age-appropriate. The amount of information and detail you provide your kids should vary by age. A helpful way to broach a conversation about COVID-19 is to ask open-ended questions, gauge what your child already knows and work from there. Validate their feelings. It’s important to regularly check in on your children and ask them how they’re feeling. Listening to them without judgment and validating their feelings can go a long way in helping them through this difficult time. Manage stress with coping skills. Extra stress during a pandemic is common and understandable. To help your kids manage stress, try playing games, doing some yoga or meditation and getting outside for some fun and exercise. Encourage virtual interactions. Kids need social interaction, and while meeting up in person might not be the best option right now, virtual interactions can help kids feel connected to their friends and classmates during the pandemic. Try reaching out to other parents to set up virtual playdates for your little ones. (Teens and tweens probably don’t need a reminder to reach out to their friends via the internet.)

If your child shows any patterns of emotional or behavioral concerns (such as sleep disturbances, changes in eating habits, anxiety or depression) that don’t resolve with parental support, it’s important to seek professional help from a behavioral health specialist.

Learn More About Banner — University Medicine’s Behavioral Health Services Preparing Your Child For A COVID-19 Test

Nobody likes getting a nose swab done, but if your child needs to be tested for the COVID-19 virus, it’s important that they’re adequately prepared for the experience.

The most important thing to remember is that in order for the test to be safe and accurate, holding your child’s head completely still while the staff carefully swabs them is key. It usually takes about 10 seconds for a medical staff member to swab both sides of the nose, so it’s helpful to practice staying still and counting out loud to 10 with your child prior to the test.

Helping your child remain calm during the test is also crucial throughout the process. If it helps, explain to them that the nasal swab the medical staff uses is similar to the Q-tips you have at home.

“Humor can be helpful, too,” said Michael Young, MD, a pediatric hospitalist and the division medical director for Banner Pediatric Specialists. “Let them know [the test is] like picking their noses or ‘digging for gold,’ only a little farther.”

Other ways to help your child stay calm during a COVID-19 virus test include:

Bringing a stuffed animal, blanket or special toy for them to hold during the test. Listening to relaxing music. Letting your child know that it’s OK to not like getting tested but that it’s quick and easy. Counting out loud together as they’re getting swabbed. The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the best way to help your child stay safe during the pandemic is to lead by example. Be a positive, patient role model for your children by continuing to model good hygiene at home and giving positive reinforcement when you notice your kids following good hygiene practices.

Get More Advice From Banner — University Medicine On Keeping Your Child Safe

Sources:
AAP: Guidance on Providing Pediatric Well-Care During COVID-19
Banner Health: Preparing Your Child for a COVID-19 Test
Banner Health: How to Talk to Your Child About Safe Hygiene Practices
Banner Health: COVID-19: How to Help Your Child Navigate This New Normal
CDC: Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2020-2021 Season
CDC: Symptoms of Coronavirus

This post is sponsored and contributed by a Patch Brand Partner. The views expressed in this post are the author’s own.

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