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It’s safe to say that social distance rules aren’t going away anytime soon. As we all look forward to getting back to some degree of normalcy in the near future, here are tips for getting kids ready for the new normal.
Wearing face coverings around the house, and getting your kids used to the proper mask wearing rules, will help them become less sensitized to it when they eventually go out in public again. “Make social distancing for kids fun. Let them decorate a mask in fun designs, and ask them to practice putting a mask on their stuffed animals,” says Dr. Lestz. Teach them the correct donning procedure:
- Touch only the ear straps
- Pull the mask over their nose and mouth, and make sure to tighten around the nose
- Finish by pulling down over their chin
- If you are looking for a creative project to do together, you can follow the CDC’s step-by-step guide for making your own face coverings.
Children under two, and especially babies, should not wear a mask under any circumstances, according to the CDC. “Babies have smaller airways, and lack the ability to reposition themselves if they have difficulty breathing,” Dr. Lestz says.
It is still better to keep very young children home when you must travel to more crowded spaces, but if that’s not possible, opt for using a light blanket or a hood to offer more of a blockade against germs.
Teenagers love to ride around in cars with their friends, making social distancing for teens nearly impossible. They should always wear masks when in close quarters like cars, and continue to wash their hands regularly. One practice to get in the habit of is jumping right into the shower when they get home to wash off any germs gathered during the day.
Since most teens are lost without their phones (aren’t we all), sanitize them daily! A recent study found more than 17,000 types of germs on teenagers’ phones. It doesn’t matter how many times you wash your hands if they are touching contaminated phones up to seven hours a day. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning, and the tech site CNET also has tips on how to properly clean a phone without damaging it.
Social distancing takes some work and may require reinforcement with kids. Wearing a mask and obeying social distancing rules is a sign of respect for others and can help prevent a reoccurrence of the virus. As Governor Andrew Cuomo says, “You wear a mask to protect me, and I wear a mask to protect you.”
Dr. Ellen Lestz is a pediatrician with White Plains Hospital Medical & Wellness in Armonk