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.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, July 7). Considerations for events and gatherings. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 25). People of any age with underlying medical conditions. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, May 13). Symptoms of Coronavirus. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 24). How to protect yourself & others. Retrieved from

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

PBS Parents. (2018). Talking with Kids. Positive Ways to Talk and Listen. Retrieved from

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.


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2020). Teens and Covid-19: Challenges and opportunities during the outbreak. Retrieved from

Talking to Children about Germs, COVID-19, and Practicing Proper Hygiene

Child washing hands with soap

With the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many children may have questions about the virus or germs in general.

What are Germs?

Germs are everywhere! They are small and can enter our bodies without us knowing. Some germs can live on surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, countertops) for a short period of time. Once they invade a human body, however, they can make a person sick. The easiest way to prevent the spread of germs is through handwashing!

Bacteria are tiny cells that obtain nutrients from their environment, which in some cases may be the human body, and can reproduce either inside or outside of a human body (KidsHealth, 2018). Ear infections, strep throat, and pneumonia are all examples of illnesses that can be caused by bacteria. Antibiotics can be used to help kill unwanted bacteria inside of the body. However, not all bacteria are bad. Some bacteria are good and help to keep our bodies functioning normally!

Viruses need to be inside living cells to reproduce (KidsHealth, 2018). A virus cannot survive long outside of a host, like a human or an animal. Viruses can cause the common cold; the flu; sinusitis; bronchitis; or other diseases, such as COVID-19. Antibiotics cannot be used to kill viruses; however, antiviral medications and vaccines can help to fight viruses or even prevent viruses from making a person sick.

How to Talk to Children about the COVID-19 Virus

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) (2020) has developed some general principles for how to talk to children about the COVID-19 virus.

  • Remain calm and reassuring.
  • Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
  • Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
  • Pay attention to what children see or hear on television or media outlets.
  • Provide information that is honest and accurate.
  • Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.

How to help Children practice Good Hygiene

Parents can help children prevent the spread of germs by teaching children specific manners to be used when they are sick and showing them how to maintain proper hygiene. According to the CDC (2020), some ways parents can teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs are as follows:

  • Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or who seem sick.
  • Remind children to cough or sneeze into their elbow or a tissue, and then throw the tissue into the trash.
  • Get children into a hand-washing habit.
    • Teach children to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their noses, coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before eating or preparing food. Have them sing the Happy Birthday song twice while they wash their hands; that will equal 20 seconds!
    • If soap and water are not available, teach them to use a hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children at home, school, and child care facilities when they use a hand sanitizer to prevent them from swallowing the product.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s website at


Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, March). Talking with children about coronavirus disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children. Retrieved from

KidsHealth. (2018, July). What are Germs? Retrieved from

How to Talk to Kids about Tough Topics

Little kid with large glasses looking perplexed

School shootings, natural disasters, political turmoil, epidemics… these and other distressing events are common headlines in our current world. Today, many kids have ready access to information 24/7, which means parents need to be ready to talk about and explain information with their children. But as a parent, what is the best approach to talking with your child about tough topics? How do you have those conversations?

One of the most important things to think about when talking with your child about a difficult topic is their age and stage of development. When a child asks a tough question or brings up one of the challenging situations mentioned, the conversation is going to look very different depending on whether your child is in preschool, second grade, or tenth grade! Being aware of your child’s stage of development will help you communicate more effectively with them.

Additionally, you may find the following tips helpful as you prepare for or anticipate challenging conversations with your child:

  • Listen for feelings. Sometimes when youth come to a caregiver and ask questions about a tough topic, they are feeling unpleasant or unfamiliar emotions. For example, after a school shooting, children may feel fear, sadness, or threats to their sense of safety. Parents can help their children identify and name the feeling(s) they are experiencing.
  • Give space for conversation; in other words, listen! Have you ever heard the saying, “Talk and listen in the same proportion of your ears and mouth.” What this means is, listen twice as much as you talk! All joking aside, often when children approach a parent, they don’t want you to minimize or solve their problem. They simply want to engage in conversation. So, if your child comes to you, ask follow-up questions, get opinions, be curious, and listen.
  • Find out what they already know. This is a great tip for talking about tough topics. A simple question such as, “What do you already know about this topic?” can help parents gauge the child’s level of understanding on the topic. The conversation can proceed from there.
  • It’s ok to say to your child, “Let me think about that.” If you need a moment to collect your thoughts before you engage in a tough topic, that’s OK! State your need, and, then, make sure you follow up with your child at a point in the near future.
  • Finally, keep the door open for more conversation. When you wrap up your conversation with your youth, remind them you are available to talk if or when they need you! As children grow, keep the lines of communication open. We want our kids to come to us when they need to talk – even about the tough stuff.

Additional Resources

For more information and strategies for Talking to Kids about Tough Topics, please visit:

Should Your Teen Get a Summer Job?

Young man working in a bicycle shop

As the end of the school year approaches, your teen may have expressed interest in getting a summer job. For many teens, having a summer job is their first opportunity to take on a higher level of responsibility, earn money, and behave more like an adult.  However, as competition increases for entering college, you may be thinking, “Should my teen get a summer job or concentrate on academics?”

There are many benefits to having a summer job:

  • Interest and Opportunities. A summer job may help your teen better identify goals or interests. Suggest your teen search for jobs or internships in areas within a desired field of interest. Experiences from this type of job could lend support as your teen starts exploring degree options and career paths.
  • Resume Building/Networking Skills. To apply for a job, your teen will need to produce a resume. Applying for a summer job is a great way to start learning the ropes of resume building and writing! Help your teen identify and engage in networking opportunities. For example, groups like Rotary, community outreach programs, school boards, or even your job can help your teen build relationships and communication skills.
  • Improve Job Interview Skills. Before getting a job, your teen will need to learn basic interview skills. Developing interview skills is a good way for your teen to build confidence and for you as a parent to capture some quality time. Prepare realistic interview questions and run through a few mock interview sessions.
  • Money Management. Having a summer job is a great opportunity for your teen to gain and further financial literacy and responsibility skills. As a parent, you can help your teen appreciate the importance of saving money and learn how to budget earnings.
  • Improving Responsibilities. Learning to balance multiple activities; taking initiative; building confidence and independence; and learning the importance of hard work, time management, and communication skills are invaluable skills that your teen could learn from having a summer job.
  • Staying Busy. A summer job will keep your teen busy over the months when school is out. This will encourage them to develop a set schedule for the summer, which means they will more likely stay active and out trouble.
  • Consider Volunteering. If a summer job is not possible (e.g., your teen only has a few hours each week to spare), encourage your teen to check out local organizations and clubs to see if there are any volunteer opportunities that may be suitable for interests. Volunteering is also a great way for your teen to network and give back to your community.

If your teen is adamant about getting a summer job, try to develop a plan and a schedule that works for everyone.  Remember to regularly check in with your teen. If you feel your teen is struggling to balance day-to-day routines because of a summer job, talk about how time can be managed more efficiently or other possible solutions.

But first, don’t forget to check your local labor laws to see if there are any age requirements or restrictions that may prevent your teen from getting a job of interest.

For more tips and ideas about your teen getting a summer job, check out the resources links below!

Additional Resources

Why Do Siblings Fight?

Kids having a pillow fight

How often, as a parent, do you hear your child saying, “Mom! Harrison keeps teasing me and won’t leave me alone!” Then your other child responds, “No I’m not, Mom! She started it!” As a child, you may remember fighting with your siblings. Now, as a parent, it seems as if your own children are constantly fighting over small disagreements. You may begin to feel like you are being stretched thin as you try to keep peace among your children and find yourself questioning, “Why do my children fight constantly?”

Siblings, in general, are not motivated to be nice to each other because they know their sibling will be there tomorrow. Sigmund Freud believed that from birth, children are locked in an external struggle for their parent’s affection. However, parental affection ranks last in terms of why siblings fight. The number one reason behind sibling fighting is sharing. Ultimately, fighting is a normal part of your child’s development. Fighting can help siblings create bonds that are stronger than their bonds with peers and/or parents. It can help them develop a sense of empathy and self-disclosure. These skills may then carry over into their future relationships and result in positive outcomes, such as better conflict resolution skills and social competence.

As for parents, it’s important to demonstrate positive strategies in resolving conflicts in a healthy manner by, for example, role modeling positive and cooperative arguments when your children are around. If you feel your children’s fights are becoming more intense or happening more frequently, there are a few ways for you to intervene and resolve the conflict peacefully.

  • First, make sure your children are separated in the room and not physically hurting one another. Allow them to take a minute or two to cool down. You can help them by demonstrating deep breathing exercises.
  • Second, get down to your children’s eye level and listen to both sides. This will allow your children to express their feelings and feel heard. Sometimes, kids maybe too upset to discuss the incident. In that case, you may need to separate your children if they are not ready to talk. Remember, you want to teach them self-calming techniques in order for them to be able to self-regulate their emotions.
  • Once both children have calmed down, bring them together. Assist your children as they express their feelings to one another and help them use joint positive problem-solving strategies to resolve the problem.
  • Lastly, follow up with your children and see how they are feeling about the conflict and whether the solution has worked for both of them.


Edward, J. (2011). The sibling relationship: A force for growth and conflict. Lanham, Maryland:Jason Aronson [Imprint].

Recchia, H., & Howe, N. (2010). When do siblings compromise? Associations with children’s descriptions of conflict issues, culpability, and emotions. Social Development, 19(4), 838-857. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2009.00567.x

Perlman, M., & Ross, H. S. (1997). The benefits of parent intervention in children’s disputes: An examination of concurrent changes in children’s fighting styles. Child Development, 68(4), 690-700. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1997.tb04230.x

Recognizing and Managing Stress for Parents

Woman stressed in front of a computer

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Parents can experience stress related to a variety of situations. These situations can be ordinary, such as getting your children to school on time or rushing home from work to make dinner. On the other hand, they can be extreme, such as facing a serious illness or financial difficulties. Since stress can cause physical, emotional, and mental health issues if not well managed, it is important for parents to learn how to recognize and find ways to deal with stress.

How to Recognize Stress

Reflect and identify what causes you to feel stressed. Do you feel stressed in situations related to family, health, finances, work, or other situations?

Know your signs of stress. Everyone experiences signs of stress in different ways. Which of the following symptoms do you experience when you feel stress?

  • Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pains, rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Lack of concentration or focus
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Reflect on and identify how you deal with stress. Determine if you turn to unhealthy behaviors to cope with stress, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or overeating. Do these behaviors happen often or only during certain events or situations?

How to Manage Stress

Take care of yourself. It can be hard to find time for yourself when you are a parent, but it is important to take time for yourself, even if it is just a few minutes a day.

Try different stress-reducing activities. These activities can include meditation, yoga, taking a short walk, reading, or talking about your concerns with friends or family. Everyone manages stress in his or her own way, and you may have to try a few activities to see which ones work best for you.

Spend quality time with your family. Find activities that your family enjoys doing together. Take a walk or hike, have a family game night, or go to the movies.

Focus on changing only one behavior at a time. Unhealthy behaviors that develop because of stress can be difficult to change. Instead of making several changes at one time, focus on one behavior you would like to change or improve.

Reach out for support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a doctor or psychologist, who could help you manage your stress and change unhealthy behaviors.

Additional Resources


American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Managing stress for a healthy family. Retrieved from

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Five tips to help manage stress. Retrieved from