How to talk to your kids about social distancing

Social distancing is a term that we have all been required to learn and understand over the past few months. This term was relatively unknown to all of us at the start of 2020 and at Child’s Play we understand it may have been difficult to talk to your kids initially about lockdown restrictions; why they can’t go and see their friend or even come to childcare. It was difficult for all of us.

As we begin to go back to normal, social distancing is something that is continuously stressed by educators and government officials. Young children may not completely understand why these changes are in place and it’s important that we try and educate them without stressing them out. As a parent, this can seem like a daunting task and we want to help you navigate through your concerns.

Social Distancing by Definition

Social distancing is the practice of keeping 1.5m of distance between two or more people not in the same household. It is a recommended practice to slow the spread and control infectious diseases. Currently, in Victoria, social distancing also includes

  • Avoiding and delaying large gatherings
  • Avoiding non-essential travel
  • Restricting the amount of guests in your home

All of these measures came at a fast pace for everyone, there were lots of questions asked and as we slow the spread the conditions change. So if you do have queries about social distancing make sure to check out the DHHS website for the most up to date information.

So how do you explain social distancing to your kids?

At Child’s Play, we know you don’t want to stress your kids out with some of the harsh realities related to social distancing. But we do recommend that you talk to your kids about social distancing because it is a big change to our social environment. Here are a few things that you can keep in mind when talking to your kids:

1. Be Honest
By being honest with your child and explaining that social distancing is new and that we don’t know everything about this virus will be beneficial for their development. By being honest, they can understand that you are in the same boat as them and it will help them feel at ease about some of their concerns regarding the future.

2. Age Appropriate
Your child most likely will not understand all of the technical terms that are thrown around. So it is important that we think about the language that we are using and keep our sentences as simple as possible and as relevant as possible. Not everything that is related to social distancing will relate to them for example, they are still able to come to Child’s Play on their designated days, unlike school kids siblings who have previously had to stay home.

3. Positivity
Keep the message positive and inclusive. Explain to your child that there is this new virus but when talking about the changes and introduction keep the tone and the message as positive as you can and try to use inclusive language so that they don’t feel pressured by all these new rules. Here are some phrases that may help you when talking about social distancing:

  • We’re all in this together (You, Me, Dad/Mum, Siblings)
  • Everyone is working together
  • Our role is…
  • What we can do (Facetime Nana and Pops, Have More Arts and Crafts Sessions, Love)
  • How we can help people is by staying away for a little bit.
  • We can wave, and clap, and blow kisses

4. Relate
One of the biggest things to consider when talking to your child about social distancing is being able to relate. Use simple language like “This is weird” and empathise with them about their concerns. Try not to talk down to them about it as they just want to be able to understand social distancing like you do. A good way to relate and bring context to the situation is by explaining how upcoming birthdays and parties might work.

5. Be Prepared for Questions
Kids are naturally curious and when a new concept is introduced, they have questions. These questions can range from “Will I be able to see my friends?” to “Can I still play outside?” as well as many other important questions. When answering these questions don’t be afraid to be honest and say “I don’t know”  because it will help your child understand that this concept is new, that it is still developing, and that there may be lots of changes.  Also be prepared to talk through changes as children may try to catch you out and ask why situations have changed and evolved.

What is Child’s Play doing?

At Child’s Play, there are many ways we are trying to support social distancing in our centres and these include:

  • Progressive Meal Times and a 4 Person Table Limit
  • In groups, sitting at least an arms-length away
  • Having Indoor and Outdoor Programs throughout the day
  • Sleep Routines being adjusted so that no child is face to face with another child.

If you have any questions about social distancing and the impact of your child’s early learning. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our wonderful educators who will be able to further explain to you these measures and answer any questions you may have.