Communities across the country are dealing with the Novel Coronavirus, with different protocols in place depending on severity of the outbreak in a particular location. Some schools have closed early for spring break, while others have switched to online learning to encourage social distancing. It may seem there are no uniform set of rules because we are all operating in different stages of the game. However there are a few guidelines from the Centers for Disease Controls that we should all follow, especially within the framework of social distancing.
Do’s and Don’ts of Coronavirus
DON’T touch your face
Think beyond the regular rubbing of the eyes or scratching your nose. Think of your teen’s daily face-touching habits, such as applying makeup, chewing their fingernails, or popping a pimple. All of these habits put their hands on their faces or in their mouths, increasing their risk of becoming sick. Remind your teen to be mindful about how often they touch their face and to avoid it as much as possible.
DON’T go on dates, hangout, or have friends over
John Hopkins Medicine defines social distancing as “deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.” Staying at least six feet away from other people reduces the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
Trisha Shroedor of Northern Kentucky says the social distancing guidelines confuse some parents. Schroeder’s daughter was recently invited to her best friend’s birthday party. The friend had only invited three people over which was well beneath the threshold of the recommended 10 people per group. But smaller groups are only okay if everyone keeps a safe six-foot distance between one another during the interaction. The CDC also recommends that interactions happen outside.
This is the difficult part for teens and it’s also difficult for parents to manage.
Simply put: it’s best that kids don’t get together right now.
Schroeder did not allow her daughter to go to her friend’s house for the birthday party. It’s a tough call to make, especially when others aren’t abiding by the same precautions. But based on the CDC’s guidelines, Schroeder made the right decision.
DON’T stay connected to technology 24/7
Technology may be our saving grace through this time of social distancing, but it can also be too much. Sure, family tech restrictions may go out the window while we all watch way too much Netflix and Disney+, but sometimes you need a break. If you find your teen is becoming all-consumed with news updates and feeling overwhelmed by the state of our current reality, it’s time to walk away for awhile.
DON’T believe everything you read on the internet
Make sure you check in with your teen to be sure the information they are reading or listening to is reliable and current. Don’t let their only sources of information be what someone said on Kik or TikTok or a list of questionable home remedies found on an alternative medicine website. You don’t want your teen thinking they can hang out with friends as long as they’re drinking elderberry syrup or eating enough garlic.
DO wash your hands
Remind your teen to wash their hands often, not only when coming in from outside, after using the bathroom and before eating, but also before they do anything that involves touching their face. Also, if you use makeup brushes, now is a great time to look up tutorials on YouTube for washing makeup brushes.
DO use Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom to stay in touch with friends
The good news is that we live in a time of technology and teens are already familiar with video chat. It’s not the same as hanging out, but it is a great option and one that should be encouraged so your teen doesn’t feel isolated from friends.
DO get out of the house
Recommend that your teen put down their phone and get outside. Work in the garden, take the dog for a walk, kick a ball around the yard, and enjoy the sun. Go for a family drive or hike a local trail, being sure to keep your distance from others who might be doing the same. Even people who have been told to “shelter in place” in their community are encouraged to get outside for a run or a walk.
This is not a time to meet up with a friend and walk side-by-side. If your teen doesn’t want to walk alone, go with them. Siblings can also walk together. Teens who have a significant other may find it particularly difficult to abide by the rules of social distancing, but reinforce the reasons for social distancing and let them know you trust them to make the right choices.
DO use this as a time to work on bad habits
Does your teen bite their fingernails? Chew on pencils or the earpieces of their glasses? Now is the time to help them break these bad habits. A home manicure will help encourage them to keep their nails out of their mouth. Using a scented lotion that tastes bad can also help deter nail and cuticle biting. Buy sugar free chewing gum to take the place of those pencils and eyeglasses. Curbing bad habits now will reduce the risk of getting sick from any virus or bacteria, not just COVID-19.
DO stay updated with reliable news sources
The situation with COVID-19 is changing so quickly that it is important to stay informed. It’s good for your teen to check the news for a daily update and then turn it off. Many news outlets are offering coronavirus coverage without a subscription, but remind your teen to check the date of everything they read. For instance, an article published in February is already outdated information. Because the pandemic is affecting each community differently, it’s important to stay updated via local news sources and read the your state governor’s updates.
DO keep living your life
Emphasize with your teen that despite the current circumstances, it’s still important for them to do as much as they can to maintain a normal day-to-day life. Staying in touch with friends, keeping up with any school work their teachers send, pursuing their interests at home as best they can, and staying connected with family will go a long way to making them feel happier, healthier, and more able to face this period of social distancing, however long it may last.