The past few weeks have seen an exponential rise in the number Covid-19 infected cases across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) has enlisted a few key safety practices to maintain during these times to avoid coronavirus infection. Since children are also at a risk of contracting the virus in addition to old-aged people and young adults, it’s important to focus on how to protect them as well. And there are specific guidelines that should be followed in case of children.
At present, the severity of Covid-19 in children is found to be mild, and can turn severe only if the child has underlying issues like diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory illnesses or on immunosuppressant medications, that can weaken their immunity.
Here are some of the precautions you can take to keep your child safe from a Covid-19 infection:
- This is the right time to train your children to follow good hygiene practices like washing their hands thoroughly. Ensure they have an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with them at all times, in case they are stepping out or playing with other children, although it’s best to avoid any kind of social gathering.
- Teaching your kids the right way and the right times to wash hands is important. Refer to the WHO guidelines on the right technique to properly wash and disinfect your hands, especially between your fingers and inside your nails. You should also teach them to wash their hands with soap and water before eating or touching their face.
- Train them to wash their hands a number of times after different activities such as touching doorknobs or doors in public places. Another technique to avoid interaction with an infected surface is to tell your children to use their unused hand while accessing a doorknob or door in a public place.
- While stepping out, ensure that your children are wearing full-sleeved clothing to minimize the interaction with any public surface. It may be ideal to keep a separate set of clothes when you step out.
- Frequently disinfect your immediate surroundings, especially bathrooms. Avoid using a common bath or hand towel for your children and other members of the family. Clean doors, window panes, doorknobs and any object or fixture which are accessed by the majority at home.
- Ensure to wash the clothes worn while stepping out; keep a separate laundry bag to keep the dirty clothes. Frequently wash the clothes and use warm water for washing. If someone is sick at home, do not mix their soiled clothes with other clothes, as this can be a direct source of infection.
- Social distancing can be quite a task if you have young children. But you can keep them entertained indoors with various activities and games. Don’t worry as there are several YouTube channels and apps specifically for this, you can either create your own games or borrow some from around the world. There are several classic indoor board games like scrabble, monopoly and Jenga that the whole family can play together; these are great for family bonding.
- This is the best time to introduce your kids to the joy of reading; you can start by reading out stories to them and then encourage them to read with you. This is not only a fun experience but can be a great way for your kids to learn a lot.
- If you have pets, then you can entrust your children to take care of them to keep them occupied and fill the lack of a companion. This could include brushing the pet, ensuring they are fed or playing with them. This is the best way to cultivate a sense of responsibility in children of all age groups.
- It’s best to avoid your kids from playing with other kids outside or be a part of big social gatherings as it may increase the chances of infection.
Learning & Schedule
- In case your kid is in the middle of an on-going academic calendar during the present lockdown, then you can help the children continue with their education. Stay in touch with the class teacher for a regular update and syllabus requirements. Keep a fixed study time every day, design worksheets and games to keep your children interested.
- You can also help them complete assignments and projects. There are several DIY projects you can explore with your children in the comfort of your home. Also, keep a fixed bedtime for your children since good sleep will keep them in good spirits and concentration to learn.
- If you feel that your child’s mental well-being is getting affected by the lockdown, your child is anxious and cranky, then there are certain measures you can take to put them in ease:
- Friends: You can connect them to their friends through a video call to help them stay in touch and not feel isolated. You can set a fixed time for this activity so that they will look forward to that interaction.
- Gardening: Teach your kids to garden and join them in gardening. You do not need a lot of places, you can start with a small kitchen or a herb garden. There are several online tutorials to help you with this and it will be a great learning experience for your children too.
- Children are especially vulnerable to contracting the infection; make sure you keep them away from sick or infected people. Avoid visiting relatives or friends who are sick at this time.
- Introduce your children to new hobbies such as painting, singing and help them learn to play an instrument. You don’t need to step out for this, as these are just a click away. Several online tutorials are available to guide you; you can also enrol your children to online classes that will keep them engaged. You can also learn with your children, for example, origami is one such art that is enjoyed by both adults and children alike.
Be a role model
- This is the best way to teach your children good habits. Practice self-restraint and avoid gathering with family and friends. Avoid going out, travel only when it’s essential and postpone your non-essential trips. Stick to your routine, exercise regularly and eat healthily. Maintain personal hygiene and overall cleanliness. These few measures will go a long way in inspiring your children to be responsible.
So, the war against the pandemic begins at home, and it’s a battle we all can win with a bit of effort!
Dr. Mridul Chandra Das | Consultant Gastroenterology & Hepatology – Paediatric, Paediatrics | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram