As the cities start to open again, welcoming people into the stores and restaurants, it’s impossible not to see that things are looking a little bit different. A new normal has now taken place. More masked faces walking around, hands being sanitized before entering anywhere and after touching anything. People seem a little more distant from each other and a lot of our affairs are being taken care of through the internet.
If you’ve been to one of our clinics recently, you noticed the playroom is no longer open, Plexiglas is protecting the reception, masks and protective goggles are worn by staff and we no longer have patients in the waiting room.
With the ‘new normal’ hitting us in the face, it’s important to help our little ones to understand the situation and not let them see it as a scary thing. The new measures put in place around the world are here to keep us safe and protected and for us adults, it’s easy to understand it. But for kids, it may be more difficult. Children might need some help grasping the rules changing… again. Here are some tips for you to ease the kids into the ‘new normal’.
Explain what’s different and what’s not
Start by discussing how things are the same AND different. When things are changing so rapidly, it is important to highlight all the things that are staying the same. Children can still call friends, ride their bikes, hang out with immediate family members, practice their favorite activities, and enjoy being outdoors. This helps to reinforce the aspects of daily life that are predictable and routine, things that help us to manage during these difficult times. Then, you can move on to discussing changes.
If you haven’t been to PDG since we reopened, tell your children what to expect now. Reassure them we’re here for them and all the changes are in place to protect them.
Use simple and positive language
When discussing the lifting of stay-at-home orders, use simple language to explain the key changes that will occur. We will be able to go to a few more places, we can meet with a small group of people, if we social distance, and caregivers may be going back to work some or all of the time. Talk to kids about how you are going to take small steps to restart activities such as going to a dentist’s appointment for treatment. Try to use positive words that’ll reassure them that everything will be ok and they don’t have to be scared to go to places.
Don’t forget to talk about health safety
Parents should talk to kids about how doctors, parents and leaders are working together to create a plan for how kids and families can go out and still stay safe. This plan may mean kids have a “new normal” in which they can resume a few of their previous activities but in smaller groups or in different ways, like wearing a mask or staying six feet away from others.
Children should be reassured they can do things to help like wash their hands, try not to touch their face, and wear a mask whenever physical distancing is not possible to keep themselves and others safe. Parents should invite their children to talk about how they are feeling before and when out in public so they can discuss any concerns and make a plan together to address them.
Behavior change takes time. Be patient and allow your children time to get used to this ‘new normal’.
For the very young ones or children with development disorder, social stories and visuals help a lot.
Be positive and let’s work together for a brighter and safer future.