How can we help kids avoid anxiety after hearing about the spread of an infectious disease?
Kids listen to adults, the TV, and the radio, all who talk about the worries and concerns of contagious diseases.
There are ads for flu shots and cold remedies, nightly media coverage about rampant epidemics all over the world, and pundits predicting whether these contagious diseases could overtake this country.
How is this affecting our children? Are they asking questions? Are they curious about where these germs may be lurking, and whether they or their families are in any danger? The answer is likely going to be yes. It is also likely that your child might be experiencing some form of anxiety due to all of the uncertainty surrounding this new virus, and you are likely wondering how you can help them. So, we have a few tips.
The bottom line is that kids are kids, and the stories surrounding the Novel (new) Coronavirus could be reasonably extravagant. It’s also likely not helping seeing others in the community wearing masks, which is almost always a guaranteed question. But, there are simple, practical ways that you can help your child.
- Listen – Make time to sit down and visit with your child. Doing this will help you understand just how much they know. Listening will also give you time to answer questions that they might have and provide them with the facts.
- Be a good role model: Remain Calm – Be certain of your facts and always be sure to correct misinformation. Share facts from sources such as the CDC or the World Health Organization. Let your child know that there are sick people all over the world and they can help their family and themselves stay safe by washing their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. Also, explaining that very few kids are sick is crucial as it can help reiterate the importance of handwashing.
- Let your child know that their anxiety doesn’t need to control them – Be sure to empathize with your child. If your child seems to be continuously seeking reassurance from you (especially regarding the Coronavirus), teach them healthy coping skills. Instead, ask your child questions. Doing this might help challenge their minds enough so that they can refocus their energy. Once they become comfortable and have developed the skills to answer their own questions, they won’t need to ask you for reassurance and this can help lessen their anxiety because they will feel more “in control.”
- Check out this book explaining the coronavirus
The Glo Germ kit demonstrates the importance of proper handwashing. This kit is used by having students rub Glo Germ lotion on their hands, which simulates the spread of germs in the form of thousands of tiny plastic fluorescent dots. Next, each student was asked to wash their hands as they usually would. Once their hands were washed, a fluorescent ultraviolet lamp was used to “spot” any remaining “germs.” Under the light, the plastic “germs” fluoresce or glow brightly, so that the student may easily see them.
It’s often hard for kids to grasp the importance of clean hands. But why? Often because tiny bacteria and viruses found on hands can’t be seen with the naked eye. This Glo Germ Kit, however, demonstrates where harmful germs and bacteria can be found, and it also shows just how easily the “bad stuff” can go away, when they wash their hands properly.
Overall, the science fair went well, and the kids were excited about using the special powder, lotion, and seeing their hands shine under the UV light. With this kit, the kids were able to demonstrate that washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is all that is needed to wash off harmful bacteria and germs. They also demonstrated that washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds was better than using sanitizer. However, if water and soap are not available, sanitizer is better than using nothing at all.
In short, doing this science fair project helped them understand that hands carry tons of germs that can’t be seen (as demonstrated in the picture below of our Science fair poster). As the world faces growing concerns of a new virus and we continue to learn the facts, it is critical that everyone does their part and makes time for handwashing. Handwashing is simply one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. As a dentist, the importance of washing hands is something we do at all times.
Before we go, we’ve shared with you some short, fun videos for you and your kiddos to watch while you’re doing your part at home and keeping the spread of germs to a minimum.
- Here’s a fun and interactive lesson on just how effective soap is when it comes to keeping germs away: watch it here and try it out!
- See what Hamilton Health can show you about just how effective proper hand washing is when it’s done for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Finally, see how germs spread. Watch this video from Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center.
We hope our information is useful and remember, be sure to wash your hands with soap AND water for at least 20 seconds AND avoid touching your face.
We take infection control very seriously at all Nebraska Family Dentistry locations.