The COVID-19 pandemic is difficult for everyone. As an adult, you can use your critical thinking skills to understand the reasons for various changes our society faces. Your kids are not yet developed enough to fully understand why they can't play and socialize like they once did. Help them maintain social skills and safely spend time with others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When your kids can't spend time up close with their family and friends, compromise by spending more time outdoors. Plan playdates to meet in person at a park or other outdoor area where you can safely social distance and still have fun. Activity ideas include:
- Riding bikes
- Coloring with chalk
- Go for a hike
- Have a socially distanced picnic
When planning outdoor activities during COVID, take these things into consideration:
- Stay away from crowded areas
- Take hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes
- Pack face masks just in case
- Talk to your kids ahead of time about social distancing
If you have a babysitter you trust, this is a great way for your kids to safely socialize. Have your babysitter come to your house to watch your kids while you work from home, do chores, or go on a date with your spouse. Your children get to spend time with someone outside your family circle, and you get a little break from keeping your kids entertained.
After all, limited activities can make your kids feel anxious after a while. Having your babysitter come over may feel like a special treat if you've been careful about who you spend time around. Ensure that your babysitter understands any health precautions you want to be observed, and set rules like:
- Get vaccinated
- Disinfect common surfaces
- Wash hands frequently
- Take off shoes at the door
- Not come over if they are sick
If your babysitter isn't fully vaccinated, you may consider asking them to wear a mask or social distance as much as they can with your children. Don't take your children to your babysitter's home where you cannot verify disinfection and social distancing rules. Your children face a lower risk if someone comes to your home.
Pools with chlorine and other chemicals help to decrease the spread of COVID-19 viruses because the chemicals kill the germs. Close contact with another person increases the risk of transmission, so practice social distancing as much as possible while swimming with friends and family. Wear a mask when you aren't in the water. Don't share towels, goggles, or pool toys with other people. Wash your hands when you get out of the pool and avoid shared locker rooms if possible.
If you live near a large body of water, a swim and time outdoors is a great way for your children to socialize during COVID-19. Keep in mind that ocean, lake, and river water do not destroy COVID-19 viruses the same way pool chemicals do. However, the water dilutes the germs to a level that makes it unlikely for transmission to occur. As with all social outings, maintain social distancing and wear a mask when you are in close contact with others. Take hand sanitizer and wash your hands and body when you get home to be safe.
Talk to camp or activity administrators about safety precautions that are in place. If you expect your child to wear a mask, communicate that so leaders can help ensure your child keeps their mask on when it is appropriate. If you have concerns about people being vaccinated, ask questions about their requirements. Equip your child with hand sanitizer and talk to them about the importance of washing their hands often.
As an extra precaution, it's a good idea to have your child tested for COVID-19 before sending them to an extended day camp or overnight camp. This helps protect others who will be in the group and ensures that your child isn't putting others at risk unknowingly.
If you're not comfortable with social activities, look for ways to help your child learn and maintain social skills. You can practice:
- Take turns during conversation and activities
- Consider another person's perspective
- Make decisions together
- Be together
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
- Getty Images
- Child Mind Institute: “Teaching Social Skills at Home.”
- Kid’s Health: “Coronavirus (COVID-19): Social Distancing With Children.”
- University of Chicago Medicine: “Day care, camp and hugging: What’s safe for kids this summer?”