Explaining things like social distancing and wearing masks to younger children can be a bit of a challenge. While we want to make sure they understand what we’re asking, we don’t want to scare them. And, we don’t want to give them more information than they can handle.
For very young children that don’t understand the concept of germs, there are several good television programs and books that are written for their age using concepts that they can grasp. Or check out this video from Sesame Street where Grover talks about being near and far and what is too close.
The key is to explain that we are staying a safe distance from other people to help them and not because we are afraid of them. To help your child grasp this concept, you can explain how you pull the car over to the side of the road for a police car or an ambulance. It’s not because you are afraid of the ambulance. It’s to help keep the driver and passengers safe
Even if kids don’t understand why they need to social distance, it’s important to remind them that it’s an easy way to keep themselves, their friends, and their family healthy. At the same time, you can remind them of the importance of washing their hands. And, don’t forget to sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
We don’t want kids to feel alone when they are social distancing. So, make sure that you offer other ways for them to connect with friends and family. You can use Skype or even Zoom to make a virtual playdate with their best friends. Or, you can go outside for a long walk in the woods or in the park. Why not have a bike ride. These are all good ways to be active and outside without being too close.
To turn this into an educational activity, you can discuss distance. Explain using a measuring tape what six feet actually looks like. You can attach a ribbon to the floor with tape so that they can easily grasp what a safe distance is to others. This is a helpful visual way for children to understand a safe distance for social distancing.
Be sure that your kids understand that they aren’t being punished when they are told they can’t visit with their friends. Explain the reasoning using language they can grasp at their age. And, try to offer alternative activities they can do even at a good distance.