Promoting Healthy Behaviors to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and families should remain diligent in modeling and promoting healthy behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19. Currently, a vaccine is not available to help minimize and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Fortunately, there are several strategies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020), that you can implement within your family system that may reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Know How it Spreads

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets that are produced and distributed when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes within close proximity to other people (about six feet). These infected droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and may be inhaled into these people’s lungs. Recent studies suggest that some people may spread the virus even though they may not experience symptoms. If you do not have symptoms but still carry the virus, you would be known as an asymptomatic carrier.

Stay Home When Appropriate

Limiting close face-to-face contact with people outside of your household is a good way to prevent exposure to and reduce the spread of COVID-19. When appropriate, stay at home with members of your household. Even if you are at home, you can still enjoy outdoor spaces around your home or neighborhood but be sure to continue to practice physical distancing with people who are not in your household.  Physical distancing, or social distancing, is the practice of maintaining six feet between all individuals.

Avoid Close Contact

When inside your home, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and, if possible, maintain six feet between the person who is sick and other household members.

Before deciding to go out in public, you should consider the level of risk for yourself and your family members and ensure you take appropriate protective measures. When outside of your home, limit your interactions with other people as much as possible and maintain six feet of distance (indoors and outdoors) between yourself and people who do not live in your household. Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick (e.g., older adults; people with underlying medical conditions like weakened immune system, Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease). Generally speaking, your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 increases depending on the more people you come in contact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction lasts.

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water throughout the day, especially after being in a public place, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. It is also important to wash your hands before touching your face, before preparing food, after using the restroom, after handling your cloth face covering, after changing a diaper, after caring for someone who is sick, and after touching animals or pets. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Always cover your mouth and nose – either with a tissue or inside your elbow – when you cough or sneeze, and, then, immediately throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer).

Cloth Face Coverings

Cloth face coverings have been found to be a “simple, economic and sustainable alternative to surgical masks as a means of source control of SARS-CoV-2 in the general community” (Esposito, Principi, Leung, & Migliori, 2020, p. 1) and could be beneficial particularly where transmission may be pre-symptomatic (MacIntyre & Chughtai, 2020).

Everyone should wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who do not live in your household, especially when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. When wearing the cloth face covering, continue to keep six feet of physical distance between yourself and others. Children, under the age of 2, should not wear cloth face coverings. In addition, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a cloth face covering.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Clean and disinfect frequently touched services, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks, with a household disinfectant on a daily basis.

Monitor Your Family Members Health Daily

Monitor yourself and family members to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 especially if you are running errands, going into an office or workplace, or visiting settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of six feet. Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you or members of your family do begin to experience symptoms, contact your primary care physician. Remember – most people experience a mild form of the illness and are able to recover at home. However, if someone is experiencing distress (e.g., trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face), get emergency medical care immediately.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, July 7). Considerations for events and gatherings. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 25). People of any age with underlying medical conditions. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fneed-extra-precautions%2Fgroups-at-higher-risk.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, May 13). Symptoms of Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 24). How to protect yourself & others. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

Esposito, S., Principi, N., Eung, C. C., & Migliori, G. B. (2020). Universal use of face masks or success against COVID-19: Evidence and implications for prevention policies. European Respiratory Journal, 55(6), 2001260. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01260-2020

MacIntyre, C. R., & Chughtai, A. A., (2020). A rapid systematic review of the efficacy of face masks and respirators against coronaviruses and other respiratory transmissible viruses for the community, healthcare workers and sick patients. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 108, 103629.

How to Talk to Kids About Tolerance, Acceptance, and Diversity

“Mom, why is that person in a wheelchair?”

“Dad, why do Sam and I look so different?”

We have all been there. Kids ask difficult questions, often at inconvenient times. Sometimes we shush them or feel embarrassed about the issue they have raised. As parents, teaching tolerance and acceptance and embracing diversity and inclusion are part of the job description – and it even can be one of the perks!

As parents, we can try to be prepared and put in place strategies that help our children understand the diverse world in which we live. Explore your family’s cultural and ethnic background. Many of the things we do every day as parents trace back to our cultural roots, and we may take for granted that our children understand why we do what we do. Be vocal, explore traditions, and tell stories. These actions and activities can open the door to exciting conversations with your kids.

Along with looking at your family’s background, explore and celebrate how other people do things. Learning with your kids can be an exciting way to build cultural competence and invite the value of inclusivity to your family. Exposure to other cultures, traditions, religions, races, and ethnicities can help children cultivate an understanding of who they are and an awareness of the diverse world around them. Attending cultural festivals, reading books that highlight diversity, eating different foods, encouraging diverse friend groups, and exploring cultural stereotypes in media are all great ways to build inclusive values.

Even when families have a solid foundation and family values that nurture and support acceptance, the time will come when your child shouts something that makes you feel uncomfortable in the moment. At this point, it is important to take a breath and respond in a manner that is calm, caring, positive, matter-of-fact, and non-judgmental. These moments provide some of your best opportunities to connect with your child and continue his or her learning about tolerance and acceptance in a meaningful way.

(Reposted from April 3, 2018)

Additional Resources

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness. (2018). Inclusivity: How to talk to your kids about tolerance and acceptance. Retrieved from http://talktoyourkids.info

PBS Parents. (2018). Talking with Kids. Positive Ways to Talk and Listen. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/strategies.html

We’ve put together a list of books for kids about tolerance, acceptance, and diversity. Click here to download the book list.

Teens and COVID-19

Schedules, routines, our very lives have been changed by COVID-19. Entire families have been affected, but social distancing may be especially difficult for teenagers who aren’t able to visit friends and are missing important milestones, such as graduations, proms, and sporting events. Parents may find it difficult to motivate teens to complete school work or daily tasks or keep them engaged in activities due to the current climate.

Please find here some ideas that can provide opportunities for your teen to take on responsibility and contribute to your family and community in ways that are unique and challenging.

Shift responsibilities!

  • If your teen has younger siblings, he or she can help care for them by planning lunch time, creating playtime activities, or finding fun ways to help them complete school work.
  • Can your teens do the dishes and take out the trash? Put them in charge of certain chores, or give them recycling responsibilities and have them research where you can drop off different types of recyclables that may not be collected by your pickup service.
  • If your teen likes to cook, ask him or her to come up with some new recipes, plan the grocery list, and cook a meal for the family.

Maintain virtual connections!

  • Put your teen in charge of creating ways to stay connected with family and friends on a regular basis. For example, themed Zoom chats or virtual game nights can be fun for all age groups.
  • Have your teen create a family email chain that can be used to exchange news, recipes, pictures, and more.
  • See if your teen can use a social media platform as a creative way to do dance battles with family and friends.
  • Is your teen active in the arts, or musically inclined? If so, ask him or her to create a new song or develop a performance to present virtually to family and friends.

Design family projects!

  • Ask your teen to take the lead on a family project (e.g., create a family photo album) that includes the entire family, and ask him or her to delegate roles and responsibilities to each family member – those close and far.
  • If your child is media savvy, ask him or her to take or use existing family photos to create a slide show and have a premier night – make popcorn or s’mores.
  • Suggest that your teen make a family tree, contact grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family to learn more about his or her family history.
  • Have your child create a virtual 5K for family and friends to participate in together.

Declutter and donate!

  • Ask teens to go through their rooms and pick clothes that do not fit or toys or old games they no longer use and package them for donation.
  • Talk to your teen about organizing a family garage or basement clean-out, and throw away or donate items that are no longer in use.

Volunteer within the community!

  • There are many volunteer opportunities in communities that follow social distancing guidelines.
    • Ask your teen to search online for opportunities in which they can help others, such as working in a group to plant or maintain the community garden or collecting food for the food pantry.
    • Suggest your teen use his or her social media platform to spread acts of kindness or make someone feel special (e.g., sharing a positive post about a friend or family member, using Facebook to raise money for a charity).

Helping teens discover ways to take on more responsibility and become leaders in their families and communities is a great use of energy. It can help support their self-esteem and allow them to contribute. In addition, being of service to others may help to mitigate feelings of depression and loneliness.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2020). Teens and Covid-19: Challenges and opportunities during the outbreak. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/Teens-and-COVID-19.aspx