Raising Cautious Kids In A COVID World

“Cooper, don’t touch that, you will get the coronavirus!” yelled my 3-year-old son, correcting his older brother in the middle of the store.

I laughed as those reflective words came from my youngest, wild, (no care in the world) son, Jacob. Just a year earlier he was the child you’d see licking the floor at Target. Yes, Mommas, I know there are some of you out there that have a child like this; I see you and I stand with you.

The fact is, there are only so many things you can do to protect your little ones. They may eventually put their mouth on the grocery cart or lick the floor of target. They are little and curious and may not be thinking of what those actions could lead to.

The world we live in today is so different from the world we were in just 12 months ago. The year 2020 has trapped our hearts in a relentless wave of fear and anxiety.

So many of us are faced with these questions on a daily basis:

  • Who just coughed, do they have the virus?
  • Is it safe for my kids to go to school?
  • My friend has COVID, am I next?
  • Why is that person not wearing a mask?
  • Why do I have to wear a mask?
  • Will I be able to work again?
  • Where is this month’s rent coming from?
  • What if I get sick?

And some find themselves repeating the same phrases perpetually: 

  • Don’t touch that
  • Don’t put your hands to your face
  • Put your mask on
  • Wash your hands
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Don’t share your drink
  • We can’t go because of the virus
So how do we raise our kids to be cautious without be trapped into the relentless fear and anxiety?

  1. Be Honest With Your Kids                                                                                                                Yes, there is a virus and there are many people who are sick because of it. Let them know how it spreads and where it spreads. You never know, perhaps that 3-year-old will finally understand that licking the sole of your shoe is really not a good thing to do.                             
  2. Ask Your Kids To Help                                                                                                                       We need to do our part in helping keep ourselves safe and those around us. Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face, don’t share drink or food with others, try not to touch things in public that you don’t have to (hand railings or the Target floor for example).  
  3. Give Grace                                                                                                                                           It’s okay if you forget to wash your hands before you touch your face. It’s okay if you forget and put your mouth on that dirty grocery cart. Repetition is the key and you will eventually do it out of habit. I mean we do want our kiddos to still encounter germs and build some immunity, right?    

  4. Don’t Worry – Be Happy                                                                                                                 
    Lead by example. This concept is so important. More often than not, if you are a worrier, your kids will be as well. Don’t continually talk about the negative aspects of our current norm, think about the many positive things about our new norm and talk about them often.  
  5. Let Them Be Kids                                                                                                                           Don’t forget to let your kids be kids. Find ways to let them have fun and be carefree without worrying about a mask on their face. There are many simple activities that can be done without you worrying about what floor their face might be on! For my kids, we ride our bicycles, play a board game, we go on hikes and adventures in the great outdoors, we have movie date nights at home, we laugh, we play, we read books and we have fun.

2020 has been everything but normal and as we look to the future, I suggest we embrace a new normal. Let’s stand united, taking precautions but also reducing our fear, worry and anxiety for the mental health of ourselves and for our children.

Sincerely, 

Writer Mom

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