Keeping Children Healthy COVID-19

At the time of writing only 5% of the 640 reported Hawaiian COVID-19 cases have been age 19 and under. This is relatively good news and we want to keep it this way or even lower. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidelines on how to keep our children healthy during these times. Below are some key points:

Watch your child for any signs of illness

If you see any sign of illness consistent with symptoms of COVID-19, particularly fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider and keep your child away from others as much as possible. Most children with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Make sure they are rested and stay hydrated, but be sure to get care if they have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, abdominal and neck pain, vomiting and diarrhea, rash, or bluish lips/face or have any other emergency warning signs

Watch for signs of stress in your child

Some common changes to watch for include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration. Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand. Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some other changes to watch for include: excessive crying or irritation in younger children, returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting), irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens, poor school performance or avoiding school, avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past, and/or unexplained headaches or body pain and for teenagers use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions

Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.

Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, they’re more likely to do the same. Make handwashing a family activity.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members. Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people. Do not gather in groups and try and stay out of crowded places and mass gatherings.

Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Help your child stay active

Encourage your child to play outdoors—it’s great for physical and mental health. Take a walk with your child or go on a bike ride.

Use indoor activity breaks (like stretch breaks or dance breaks) throughout the day to help your child stay healthy and focused. 

Help your child stay socially connected

Reach out to friends and family via phone or video chats.Write cards or letters to family members they may not be able to visit.

Help you child eat healthily

Keep lots of fresh, colorful fruit and vegetables in the house for meals and children to snack on. These are high in vitamins and minerals, which are great for supporting a strong immune system. Also remember to boost your fiber (whole grains and legumes) and healthy fats (avocado, nuts and seeds) while reducing sodium (processed and prepackaged food), trans fat and sugar. Balance is key. Living a nutritious lifestyle can also help with stress and can be easy and fun while helping to support your local farmer.

Image Credit: The County of Maui

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