With the quickly spreading Coronavirus disease and the lack of information about the virus it is imperative that you bring your children into the loop to 1. quell their anxieties 2. help them adopt preventive measures to protect their health. This is, of course, information shared in an age appropriate way.
Because we live in the Northwest, the epicenter in the US for cases of COVID-19 I wanted to get my kids on board now.
I thought I'd share what I have told my own children and how, just talking about preventative measures seemed to help alleviate some of their anxiety around this pandemic.
I followed the advice offered in the Aha! Parenting Blog (love her parenting style) and first asked my kids what they already knew about the virus. I discovered that my son had enormous anxiety about the virus and was worried that his friends and family were going to get sick and die. I imagine having played the board game Pandemic last year did not help his anxiety.
Dealing With Anxiety
To help manage the anxiety I compared the virus to the flu or a bad cold. A lot of folks get it but most people don't die. I explained that the coronavirus infection hurt folks with compromised or weak immune systems and we have hospitals with trained medical teams who could help these people fight the virus. The Center for Disease Control is set up to manage situations such as these.
I explained that it was our job not get sick and spread the virus so that the beds in the hospital could be saved for those who really needed it. I talked about how the virus test was in short supply so if we got sick we'd be staying away from others.
You can tell a child to not touch their mouth or rub their noses, to only elbow bump people and to not share food but kids are kids and they share everything. Their M.O. is dirty hands, snotty cheeks and slobbery kisses.
So, I decided to go the route of explaining to my kids (who are older) about coronavirus transmission so they could fight it rather than just following parental instructions. Currently there is no coronavirus treatment or coronavirus vaccine so the best methods are preventative and I wanted them to actively participate in prevention. I showed them this photo of the virus
and I gave them the parameters.
What We Know About The Virus
1. the only way the virus could make them sick was by getting into their body through their nose, mouth and eyes.
2. the virus can live on surfaces for up to a week
3. a person who is sick may not show any symptoms for two weeks
4. the virus travels through droplets of snot or spit or by the hands of someone who is sick
5. the virus does not like soapy running water or 60% + alcohol based hand sanitizer
6. a strong immune system can fight off COVID-19
Knowing these things I asked what are some things they could do to make sure the virus didn't get into their noses or mouths.
They asked about face masks and I told them that face masks were mostly to keep the virus contained and away from other people. It also helped prevent you from touching your own mouth and nose. We make one that holds a filter.
On everyone's list:
- Not sharing food
- Not touching your face
- 20 second hand washing singing to the ABCs
- Wearing a face mask.
We went beyond the list from the CDC and came up with ways to build your immune system and a way to remember to not touch your face.
Virus Busting Tips That Go Beyond The CDC's Recommendations
- Carry hand-sanitizer and a pack of kleenex with you wherever you go. If you can't find any hand-sanitzer here's the WHO's recommended formula and it's simple enough to make at home.
- Do not touch with open hands shared surfaces including money, door knobs, keyboards, chair backs, school supplies. We practiced ways of opening doors with our closed fists or hips rather than hands.
- Do not eat out.
- Wipe down surfaces daily with either bleach, or a non-toxic alternative like Force of Nature.
- A way to train yourself to remember not to touch your nose or mouth (which we do habitually around 90 times a day) is to put a colorful bandage on you index finger. Each time you see the bandage it would trigger you to remember.
- Strengthen our immune system by getting enough sleep and eating immunity boosting foods. There are several studies indicating viruses activate in acid environments. Influenza and Coronavirus appear to be Ph-dependant for replication. There haven't been any studies that link a higher Ph level to lower rates of contraction but it seems to me that one way to make your body less attractive to a virus is to have a higher Ph level. We looked at foods and beverages with a high alkaline content. I explained how sugar makes your body more acidic. A personal story I have is about my mother who was diagnosed with the second worst kind of ovarian cancer. After surgery, she decided to not go through chemo, even with the doctors telling her this was a death sentence. Instead she switched to a vegan food diet. That was over a decade ago. So, I do think there is something there with the Ph balance in your body.***
- I thought it was worth mentioning. Copper kills bacteria and viruses and hospitals that used copper saw more than a 50% decrease in infectious disease. Maybe we will find some use for our pennies.
The end result of our conversation is that everyone in our family feels much better with an action plan on how to deal with this unknown.
***Written by my mother Blanche Yee about her Ovarian cancer.
"I conquered my cancer by changing to a 90% vegan diet. I had ovarian cancer (clear cell carcinoma, which is the 2nd most aggressive of the 5 types of ovarian cancer). I never had chemo, radiation or any anti-cancer medications. I did have surgery to remove the right ovary and right fallopian tube. Before surgery, my CA-125 was 736.7. A month after surgery, it was 40.7. Three months after I changed to a vegan diet, it was an astounding 6.9! Anything below 30.2 is considered normal. It has been almost 15 years and my cancer has not returned."