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Military Health System

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Image of A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs). A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

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Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge. 

Kids will need help navigating changes at their level while the world around them adjusts to changing rates of local disease, and updates in policies and mandates in the surrounding community.

Fostering flexibility will be essential, said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Bonnie Jordan, a child development expert at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. 

“I don’t know what to tell kids about next week. That could change next week,” Jordan said. “The biggest message is that our family is going to have changes, and we can be flexible and successful as long as we do it together.” 

Parents should help prepare children for changes to their daily routines. 

“Kids usually do well with routine. Parents can set up good expectations, and starting to talk about routines early on can be very beneficial,” Jordan said. 

“It is important for kids to be prepared for hiccups and changes in their routine, and to have emotional support if they struggle to adjust.” 

“Military kids are resilient and good with changes. They may be in a position to accommodate changes better than their civilian peers,” she suggested. 

Tips for Parents 

Here are some of Jordan’s suggestions for keeping your family safe and in a good state of mind as we all adjust to the pandemic’s new normal. 

  • Model good behaviors. “Young kids like to imitate their parents. So at every cough or sneeze, remind them about that behavior by coughing or sneezing into your elbow,” and explain why that’s a good way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Tell really young children that “Today, we don’t have to wear masks but maybe later we will. We are not mask-wearing today because it’s safe.” 
  • Remind your kids “that every community and every family will have different reasons for masking, and that it may be difficult to see unmasked people” if your family is still masking. 
  • “Have conversations about being mindful of others who may be at higher risk of disease.” 
  • Don’t allow bullying or making fun of masking. “Tell your kids that your family needs to support other people’s decisions. That can help normalize different choices.” 
  • “Stay home when you’re sick and get tested for COVID-19.” 
  • “Emphasize hand washing as a big way to help lessen the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19. Remind your children that this is a good behavior. It’s safe, and it helps us as a family to stay safe.” 
  • Remind teens and ‘tweens to not share food or drinks because it could spread COVID-19. 

One of the best ways for children to stay safe is to get their COVID-19 vaccination if they are eligible, Jordan said. Parents should talk to their children’s primary care provider for more information.

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