As the world is witnessing a steady rise in COVID-19 cases, parents trying to protect their kids from this virus can take solace in one thing – reports suggest that COVID-19 has generally been milder in children.
Having said that, please remember that there are no vaccine available for now, so parents should do everything they can to protect their kids from getting COVID-19 infection. Read on for some practical tips to prevent COVID-19 infection in children.
Avoid Exposing Children to Sick People
Children can be exposed to COVID-19 infection when the virus contacts their mouth, eyes, nose, or the lungs. This generally happens when a nearby infected individual releases the respiratory droplets into the air through his/her sneezes or coughs onto the child’s face or the adjacent surfaces, like tables, food or hands.
Therefore, the most ideal way to prevent children from getting infected with COVID-19 is to avoid exposing them to people who might be, or who are sick with the virus.
- Avoid crowds. Keep children away from crowded places, whenever possible
- Keep away from sick people and keep your kids at least 6 feet (two arm’s length) away from any individual who is sick with a fever or cough, including family members
Make Children Follow Social Distancing
Children are not just at risk from COVID-19 themselves, but they can also transmit this infection to their parents, grandparents and others especially those with pre-existing medical conditions who may be at an even greater risk for severe complications. Parents should contribute to the need for social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19 virus. The following recommendations apply to all families including children:
- No in-person socializing outside of the immediate family members (this includes parties, play-dates, sleepovers, etc.)
- When contact becomes necessary, encourage kids to maintain at least 6 feet (or more) distance from anyone.
- No going out to playgrounds closed until further notice.
- No indoor recreational activities at a shared facility.
- When outside to play (biking, outdoor games, etc.) maintain 6-feet or more apart from others.
Hand-washing to Prevent COVID-19 in Children
How to wash hands:
As parents, you have to teach your children to wash their hands often, for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
When to wash hands:
Children should wash hands after coughing, sneezing, blowing the nose, or after using the bathroom. They should also wash their hands before eating (even it’s snacks) and as soon as they come back home from playing outdoors.
For children who resist:
If children throw tantrums and refuse to wash hands or are getting upset when asked to wash hands regularly, compliment them for doing a good job each time they comply It might also help if you give them small rewards, like a sticker or putting a star to celebrate every time they wash hands. It also helps when parents set an example by washing their own hands regularly.
Here are some tips to make hand-washing fun for children
- Wash your hands also with them. You can teach them how to wash hands properly by doing this often.
- Sing songs while washing hands. This will be an excellent strategy to prevent children from rushing the handwash process.
- Count with your child while they are washing. This will help the child develop mathematical skills and also help them to learn how long a proper handwash takes.
- Play a guessing game with you kids, for instance, ask them to guess how many more times they may be able to wash their hands with the soap left in the liquid soap dispenser.
Other COVID-19 Prevention Tips for Parents and Children
- Cough and Sneeze with Care: Encourage everyone, including kids in the family to
- Sneeze and cough into the elbow, instead of hands
- Wash hands each time after sneezing or coughing
- If tissue is used, throw it away after use
- Keep hands off faces: It is the parent’s duty to remind children to avoid touching their face as much as possible. It can help if small children carry toys that will help in keeping their hands busy. However, be sure to wash and clean toys with soap or sanitizer.
- Keep things clean
- Wipe down all the surfaces and toys your child touches regularly, especially when outside home or when near a sick person.
- Regularly clean surfaces (cabinets, shelves, table tops, etc.) at home that are within your child’s reach
- Address anxiety and stress: Talking to kids about the new situation can help identify specific fears and clarify them with facts. It also helps for the family to discuss with the child in case someone gets sick or if any other thing happens that interrupts the normal routine. Remember, children will look towards parents when deciding how to feel about COVID-19 infection. If parents feel calm and prepared, children are likely to feel similarly.For parents/grandparents/elders
- If you are age above 55 years or have a pre-existing medical condition such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic lung problems, chronic renal failure, heart disease, active cancer, overweight/obesity, or you are on immunosuppressive conditions, it is recommended that you limit interaction with children.
- If interaction with children is unavoidable, then this interaction should take place at a distance of 6 feet.
- A mask may be considered if you have the above risk factors and close contact with children is unavoidable as children may be asymptomatic carriers.
- If you are symptomatic with cough/cold/running nose/sore throat/difficulty breathing then you will need to wear a mask.
- Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water should be actively encouraged.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Use tissues and throw them away.
- Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer every time you touch your mouth or nose.
- If child is mildly sick, seek online doctor’s appointment. If severe symptoms or no response to treatment, rush to nearest emergency room.
Children with Medical Conditions
- Diabetes: Controlling blood sugar of diabetic children is the key. Children with well-managed diabetes are at a lower risk of getting COVID-19 infection. However, kids with poorly controlled diabetes have a weakened immune system and are hence more susceptible to COVID-19. Therefore, doctors and parents should watch diabetic children carefully for any sign and symptom that may need appropriate evaluation.
- Asthma: Asthmatic children may face more severe symptoms from COVID-19 infection or any other respiratory illness, including flu. As of now, there are no indications that children with asthma are experiencing any severe symptoms due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, a careful observation is the need of the hour and, if symptoms do develop, call child’s doctor or the nearest healthcare centre to discuss and arrange proper evaluation as required.
If your child is symptomatic with cough, cold, running nose, sore throat or difficulty breathing make him wear a mask and call the nearest healthcare centre, or the national helpline, 1075 or 011-23978046 immediately.