Fall is in the air. Temperatures are cooling in the evenings, leaves are changing and school is back in session. This year is unlike any year in the past for our young ones. It is important to work with our kids to ensure they are ready for continuing change, that they understand the change and that they embrace the change for a healthier future.
As San Diego County begins its gradual transition back to “normalcy,” many families with little ones may find themselves unsure of how to prepare their children (and themselves) for this new normal. Change is inevitable but we must learn and adjust to the differences that this new COVID reality brings. According to the San Diego County Public Health Order many children may see themselves preparing for some degree of in-person instruction in the near future. Whether schools are online, in-person or hybrid, children will be faced with changes that may confuse or upset them. It is important to ensure that your child maintains a steady routine to help them better cope with changes.
With facial coverings and limited interactions with friends being the new normal for our little ones while at school or in public, many children may find themselves unaccustomed to or unsure how to cope with these changes. Allow plenty of time for your children to adapt to the new system. One way to create a routine would be to create a picture calendar with your child. The calendar and pictures can help your child envision how things will go and keep them positive.
One of the most distinct aspects of the “new normal” for children is the introduction of required facial coverings. Children react differently to wearing a facial covering. For little ones who might be hesitant to wear a face covering here are some tips you can try with them to alleviate their worries:
- Wear a face covering often around your children so they have the chance to acclimate to their appearance
- Make it fun! Try doing a facial-covering-decorating activity. Kids can color, draw on or even put stickers on their face coverings to make them their own
- Incorporate face coverings into playtime – little ones can pretend to be doctors, dentists, nail technicians and more
- Try making face coverings with your little ones! Check out our resources for do-it-yourself face covering ideas here.
Another change that children will need to prepare for is the social distancing requirements when playing with friends. They may not understand why they can’t play with their friends at school like they were able to before. To help your little one’s better understand social distancing and its importance try these tips:
- This video featuring Grover from Sesame Street includes a fun way for little ones to better understand social distancing brought to you by their favorite blue furry puppet
- Make it a game! Try cutting out a 6-foot-long piece of ribbon or string so your kids understand how far 6 feet is. Then make a guessing game with them where everyone tries to guess how far 6 feet is. Whoever is closest wins!
- Explain how the virus spreads in terms children can understand. Explain to them how germs are tiny little creatures that can get us very sick and they can spread through the air, through touch or through surfaces. Explain to them that this is why we have to social distance, wear a facial covering and wash our hands often. Explain that even if someone doesn’t seem sick, the tiny bacteria can still be spread and get you or others very sick
- Help little ones make phone or video calls with their friends, hold fun activities and movie nights over Zoom, take social-distanced trips around town with members of your household