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How to help children adapt to the new covid normality



The public health requirements for covid-19 are changing. How can parents help their children navigate the transition?

12 May 2022 | Wellness

For many parents, the last two years have revolved around two words: new normal. Whether you helped your young children log in to Zoom due to school closures, or asked yourself if it would be warm enough to hold the Thanksgiving dinner outdoors, parents took on the complicated and often complex task of setting up expectations, manage risks and prepare your children for experiences that none of us might have anticipated.

Do you teach your two-year-old how to wear a mask? Done.

Are you planning a FaceTime session every week with your grandparents? On the calendar.

Are you helping your six-year-old stay calm during his covid-19 vaccination? Well – you did your best with that one, and everyone got a special treat afterwards.

But what can parents do now that we’re transitioning to one new new plain? How can you prepare your children for experiences they may not have had since the beginning of 2020, such as eating indoors, visiting a museum or going to the cinema?

Some children may be both ready and eager to navigate the world without worms, hugging friends and reconnecting with relatives. Other children, especially those who may have difficulty remembering life before masking and social distancing, may be afraid of getting sick or worried about getting too close to other people.

We asked Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a clinical psychologist who specializes in parenting and child development, how you can help your family get through this summer with as little anxiety – and as little risk – as possible. Kennedy-Moore is the author of Children’s self-confidence: Help your child make friends, build resilience and develop real self-esteemand offered several insights on how to help your children build these important skills.

In this article:

Model the behavior you want to see

The best way to help your children move on new new normally is to give them a positive example of what this transition looks like. In other words – and many parents will already be very familiar with this phrase – you need to model the behavior you want to see.

“Children look to their parents to see if they should be scared,” Kennedy-Moore said. “If we as parents are calm and confident, then it is easier for children to be the same.”

Think about this in advance: If you are uncomfortable eating without worms in an indoor restaurant, for example, your children will take it up – and they will either imitate your behavior or act against it, which can make dinner less enjoyable for everyone. .

That said, if you have personal reasons for not wanting your family to interact in public this summer – perhaps because a loved one or family member is immunocompromised, or because one or more of your young children are not old enough to take against covid 19 vaccine – the same advice applies. Model the behavior you want to see, whether it includes wearing masks in stores or restaurants, or standing six feet away from strangers.

“Exactly what it will look like will be different for different families,” Kennedy-Moore explains.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you do it with confidence – that way, your children will learn how to behave safely.

“Children look to their parents to see if they should be afraid. If we as parents are calm and confident, then it is easier for children to be the same.”

– Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, clinical psychologist and author

Talk to your children about risk and reward

Some children may have many questions about covid-19 public health requirements. Why did they have to wear masks last month, but not this month? Is it still possible to infect or spread the coronavirus? What happens if they get sick? Is covid over?

As a parent, you may have the difficult job of explaining it to your children yes, covid is still out and yes, we choose to put on our masks this summer. If your children are old enough, you can show them public health data that illustrates a smaller number of cases and fewer hospital stays. You can also discuss the levels of protection you already have, such as vaccines, boosters and – in some cases – the natural immunity that your family may have received from your match with Omicron last winter.

Kennedy-Moore suggests framing it as a conversation about risk and reward. “We are not going to get 100 percent security, so we have to strive for reasonable care,” she says. “Just when we are driving, knowing that there is a small risk of an accident, we have to think about the small risks that we think are worth accepting.”

By focusing on the rewards your children will receive – the trip to the museum, the pizza party, the flight to visit their grandparents – you can help them put the risks into perspective.

Help your children reformulate their anxiety

Of course, some children are more anxious than others – and even typically confident children may feel uncomfortable letting go of the behaviors and routines they have been told will keep them safe.

“If your child is scared, feel empathy,” says Kennedy-Moore. “There is a lot of uncertainty right now about what is and is not safe, and moving from doing nothing to doing something can feel scary.”

Kennedy-Moore suggests that you help your child name and reformulate their stress and anxiety by using phrases such as “You feel afraid to do this because you do not know what to expect” or “You feel nervous about “You’ve never done this before. This before. It’s completely understandable. I bet many other children are nervous too.”

By letting your children talk honestly about their fears, you can confirm realistic fears and clear up less realistic ones. You also give your children the opportunity to reformulate anxiety not as something to avoid, but something to understand and learn from.

“Anxiety is not a stop sign,” says Kennedy-Moore. “It’s a sign that we’re doing something new or challenging.

Prepare your family for future changes

There is another factor that parents need to be prepared for – and that is the possibility that public health recommendations may continue to change. A worm-free summer can, for example, be transformed into a completely masked autumn.

This is where the risk-reward conversation can be helpful. When activities such as indoor restaurants are low risk, you can explain, your family will try to participate in these activities as often as possible. If these activities get higher, you risk participating less often – or avoiding them altogether.

Teaching your children how to navigate these types of changes not only makes them more sensitive to public health problems, which is an important part of being a good neighbor and a good citizen, but also helps young children build the kind of resilience that required to become confident. , successful adult.

“You want to express faith in your child’s strength and ability to do things even when they feel scared,” Kennedy-Moore explains. She suggests that you tell your child something along the lines of, “I know you can do this. I know you will get through it, and it will be easier for you.”

That’s what we’ve been telling ourselves after all – when we first moved on is normalthen to ny ny normaland now to what may happen next in your children’s lives.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that it can be refreshingly easy to navigate decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall well-being.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that it can be refreshingly easy to navigate decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall well-being.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not support the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they suit your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide and should not be used for tax, legal or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal adviser.

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