COVID-19 infection has been reported in children of all ages, however, case numbers seem to be far lower than in adults. Evidence suggests that they generally experience a milder form of the illness than adults, with most infected children presenting mild symptoms or none at all.
In the past few months, however, reports have emerged documenting children that have developed a more serious systemic inflammatory response. This new disease is scary for parents but thankfully seems to be rare. If your child does produce symptoms, ensure that they stay at home.
As schools and nurseries in the UK have begun to open their doors again, the number one question on every parents’ mind is “how can I keep my children safe in school?”
Make washing hands more exciting
Teaching your children how to wash their hands properly with soap and water is a really simple, yet effective way, to help keep them safe from the virus. These 6 simple steps in the diagram below outline how to effectively wash your hands. You could print off this diagram and stick it on the mirror in the bathroom to give everyone an easy reminder.
A good way to make washing hands more exciting would be to encourage them to sing their favourite song as they wash their hands. Another way would be telling them that by washing their hands, they’re like superheroes that are doing what they can to beat the bad guys.
Most importantly, is patience. It can take a long time for children to learn how to master a new skill and get into the habit of doing it. Remind them that you are there to help whenever they need it.
Lead by example
Children tend to learn from the adults around them. By making a habit of regularly washing your own hands, avoiding people who are coughing and sneezing, and throwing away tissues after using them, your little ones should be more likely to practice what you teach them. Practicing social distancing is also a good idea to prevent any germs from being passed from person to person and reduce the spread of the virus.
Test their smell
One of the main symptoms of Covid-19 is a new loss of taste and smell (anosmia). Results from the COVID Symptom Study suggest that losing your sense of smell or taste may be a stronger predictor of coronavirus infection than fever.
Keeping track of any changes to your child’s sense of smell could be a good way to identify coronavirus infection early. Mealtimes can be a great time to test this out. You could also encourage food exploration by asking them what they can smell, taste, and see on their plate.
You should also ensure to keep an eye out for other common COVID-19 symptoms, including fever and a new, continuous cough. If you see any sign of illness consistent with coronavirus infection, make sure to contact your healthcare provider and follow NHS guidance by keeping your child at home and away from others.
Encourage outdoor play where possible
Returning to school is challenging for all children, after spending weeks without interaction with their peers. Even more so if they aren’t allowed to play with one another.
Lockdown and social distancing measures have played an important role in curbing the spread of COVID-19. However, a number of child mental health experts are urging that the social and emotional wellbeing of children is prioritised in decisions made around the reopening of schools.
Playtime will teach children how to regulate their emotions, form a sense of identity, and develop important social skills. Outdoor play and learning also have a number of mental and physical health benefits so it should be encouraged where schools have the facilities.
Listen to them
Your child may be feeling worried or concerned about the things that they see, hear, or read regarding coronavirus. As they return to school, they will be exposed to information and opinions shared by their peers and teachers. As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to reassure them that you are there to listen to them when they feel scared or unsure about the things that they’re hearing. You don’t need to have all the answers, but just knowing that it is safe to talk to you about their concerns can help them feel calm.