Healthy Living: Talking with your kids about entering into ‘new normal’
SEATTLE, Wash., — As restrictions start to ease, it is a good time to start thinking about having a conversation with the kids in your household.
Dr. Jim Polo, the Behavioral Health Medical Director with Regence says it is critical to talk with your children about the temporary “new normal” we will be entering into, “We have gotten used to wearing masks which is probably gonna continue. There’s gonna be limitations on crowds and the number of folks that can gather in one location, so this will affect family activities like eating out at restaurants or going to the movies. Parents that have adapted to working at home, might continue to be working at home.”
Dr. Polo says there are a number of things that will be an adjustment. He says it is also important to focus on the fact that your child is likely still coping with loss as well as they missed out and are missing out on a lot, like the end of their school year and graduation. Dr. Polo says as we transition back to socializing, it is extremely important to help teach kids what safe social connections look like in the future for them.
“For little children, how close can they actually be with each other and play with each other and for older kids, can they gather in large crowds and can they go to parties and can they do the kinds of activities that potentially would expose them to potentially getting infected and can they be around adults and do they need to be careful around older adults that they might potentially also infect?”
Dr. Polo says it isn’t just about what you are saying to your kids when it comes to navigating this phase, he says how you say it is just as important. He says kids have been using their social media platforms, and a lot of them are reading what is going on. Dr. Polo says figure out what your kids what your kids know right now, and find out what questions they have.
“Make sure that you answer their questions with facts in an age appropriate way. Make sure that you give them the information that allows them to understand what’s real and what isn’t relative to what’s been happening with the COVID crisis.”
Dr. Polo says while it is normal for kids to feel anxious during this time, reassure them that things are going to be ok, but focus only on the now, and the immediate future not the what ifs. Dr. Polo says children take their cues from adults, so if you are worried and anxious, there is a high probability that your kids will be worried and anxious. Reassure them that they can always come to you with questions and you are going through this with them.