The Science of Parenting

Parenting Through COVID-19 | Bonus

March 18, 2020
The Science of Parenting
Parenting Through COVID-19 | Bonus
Chapters
The Science of Parenting
Parenting Through COVID-19 | Bonus
Mar 18, 2020

Things may feel a little surreal right now with COVID-19, but our parenting pros help us navigate our current reality by keeping us rooted in trustworthy information.

Send us an email: parenting@iastate.edu.
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Show Notes Transcript

Things may feel a little surreal right now with COVID-19, but our parenting pros help us navigate our current reality by keeping us rooted in trustworthy information.

Send us an email: parenting@iastate.edu.
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie J.:

Welcome to the Science of Parenting podcast, where we connect you with research-based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parenting decisions.

Lori:

I'm Lori Hayungs parent of three in three different life stages, launched, in college, and in high school and I'm a parenting educator.

Mackenzie J.:

And I'm Mackenzie Johnson , parent of two young children with their own quirks, and I'm a parenting educator.

Lori:

So today we're going to give you a bonus episode because we want to share information with you about the COVID-19 virus, and especially important is that you recognize that we're talking about specifically things that we know today, March 17th, 2020.

Mackenzie J.:

Yeah. And we've seen, you know, especially maybe on social media or in the news, you hear a lot about it, right? It's kind of the talk of what's going on. And so it's always been our goal to share trustworthy information. And so this week we're going right to the source for the Center for... The Center for Disease Control and making sure we have fact based information because parents are looking for information to be informed for their kids. So I think it's important we share the good stuff.

Lori:

Definitely, and we're going to share a couple of different research tidbits today on things that might be concerning you regarding parenting and children in general. So the first tidbit I want to share is around this question of "Are kids more at risk for COVID-19 than others?" So according to the CDC, based on available evidence today, March 17th, 2020, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults do currently make up most of the known cases. You can learn more about who is most at risk for health problems if they have COVID-19 infection on the CDCs current risk assessment page. Now, this page does list those who are at increased risk for severe illness with the virus, and that can include children if they have certain conditions. For example, diabetes.

Mackenzie J.:

Yeah. So basically it sounds like kids aren't necessarily at a greater risk of severe illness or of contracting it, but they're at risk, right? Like they're within the normal risk the rest of rest of us are. Um , and we know there are certain cases where it's an even greater risk, right? That's kind of my takeaway.

Lori:

Especially if they have underlying conditions, underlying health concerns. And also we need to remember that children are great germ carriers. And so when we look at, you know, their risk, we also have to assess their risk to others in their surroundings because they, they're great risk... They're great germ carriers.

Mackenzie J.:

I even think about walking through the store with my kids like the like , touch this, this, this, this. Right? The , the game of like, touch it, touch it, touch it , touch. That's a great germ carrier.

Lori:

Yeah. And I think that especially as you even look at older children too, they don't recognize how many things that they're also touching. You know, they're touching their phones and they're touching their backpacks and their books, and they're touching glasses and, and containers that they're eating out of. And so, they're still touching everything and passing it around to their friends. And so I think that it's not just little children that we're speaking about, we're speaking about, you know, everyone.

Mackenzie J.:

And if you are a parent out there of a child, you know, with one of the diseases that the CDC talks about being at a greater risk, we want to be taking precautions and keeping everybody safe. I can say there's people - children, and adults - in my life that would kind of fall within that higher risk assessment. So yeah, it's important that we kind of move forward with the good information that we have.

Lori:

Definitely. So the second research tidbit then that I have is this is just some basic recommendations for parents and we have five that we have here. So I'll read a couple and ask you a couple of questions. How's that sound?

Mackenzie J.:

That sounds good.

Lori:

All right . So the first one is that you can encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy, right? So we have these things that we all do to stay healthy and we just need to teach our children very specifically , making that conscious effort to teach them these are all things we always do to stay healthy. The second one here is to clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol based sanitizer. Do you have any thoughts on those first two?

Mackenzie J.:

I mean, the kind of basic right there , the, it's this , you're right, that first bullet kind of covers it of it's the stuff we all should be doing is just a matter of, as a parent maybe teaching your kids to do it, you know, that it might not come inherently. Even I think with older kids that like, yeah, they're like, okay, yeah, wash your hands, you know , wash your hands wash. But really like really wash your hands.

Lori:

Yeah, exactly. No, no, really wash your hands. Then that goes right into the second or the third one that we have, which is to avoid people who are sick, coughing and sneezing. Now we also know that there are a lot of other things that always happen. We always have allergies around this time of the year, you know, colds, influenza. And so I think that it's important to recognize that they may, they may feel like, Oh, well this is just another thing. And, talk about, well, you know, there are some things that we know and we don't know about what's going on that we do need to take special precautions to avoid people who are sick. And I can share an example of my daughter who's in high school, so obviously all over the country, schools are closing. And so I was listening to them. They were FaceTiming each other and I wasn't eavesdropping, but I was listening in and...

Mackenzie J.:

But you overheard.

Lori:

Right. I overheard all these plans that they were making. Um, you know, and I heard her say, well, let me go ask mom if y'all can come over, you know, in such and such a time. And, and I just kinda chucked out cause I thought, you know, even at the high school level, they're still not recognizing that they all feel great. However, they are actually going to have to stay home. Um, you know, that this isn't something where we're just not in school where we don't have crowds, but it's actually, yeah, you do have to avoid people. And especially when we think about the, you know, the times that we walk around that we don't know, we have, you know, the flu, or colds or COVID-19 in this case, that it's important to, you know, to isolate ourselves in quarantine.

Mackenzie J.:

Yeah. Yeah. You could be symptom free in the beginning. So, yep . That third bullet is a good one.

Lori:

When we look at the next two, the next two are clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily in your household common areas. So these are things like tables, hard back chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, handles desks, toilets, sinks. Uh , so the idea of cleaning and disinfecting them daily and that goes right along with laundering items, including washable plush toys as appropriate according to the manufacturer's instructions. And so as we look at cleaning and disinfecting high touch areas and laundering items , uh, what kind of things have you been doing at your house?

Mackenzie J.:

Oh, well we already had some kind of like disinfectant kind of wipes on hand. Uh, so I've been using those kind of around the house. I didn't think of light switches or remotes, like, yeah. Um, and I went to pick up one of my kids from childcare and they're wiping down doorknobs between families coming in and I was like, yes, awesome. Helping keep everybody safe. Uh, but it is, it's like there's a lot of high touch, a lot of high touch places . And actually my, my partner teased me when I went to use the wipes. I was reading the directions and he was like, ah, it's a wipe, you wipe things down, Kenz. And I was like, okay , but reading those manufacturer directions - how am I supposed to be using it to make it disinfect right. Is there like a certain amount of time before I like to have to touch it? Do I have to let it air dry? Do I have to rinse it afterwards? Or even , um, you even made a great point when we were talking about this before of the like the tag, like it's time... It might be time to read the tag of the thing you're watching to watch according the direction.

Lori:

Exactly. I - true confession here, I don't know the last time that I actually read the manufacturer's instructions on a bottle of cleaning solution. And I sometimes, so when I teach a childcare class and we teach about this, when we first began to talk about disinfecting and sanitizing and our instructions were, you know, to say "read the manufacturer's instructions," I went home that night and I grabbed two different bottles and I looked and thought "Oh my goodness, they each have instructions on sanitizing and disinfectant." I had never done that before. Oh, there are actually descriptions on what you should be doing!

Mackenzie J.:

And they're different. Right? It's not universal. And I think especially when it comes to stuffed animals , um , one of my kids has a stuffed animal they slept with like every night. And then there's like a whole collection of, you know, occasionally this one, occasionally this one. Um, but washing that a little more often, especially if it leaves the house. Especially If we have a friend, a stuffed animal friend, who might be coming back and forth places like that could use the wash.

Lori:

Yes. Yes. That could use a wash. It could, it could be a great teaching moment of your friend needs to have healthy hands and you know, faces too.

Mackenzie J.:

Yup. Yup. Clean those germs.

Lori:

Speaking of cleaning those germs, our last information piece here is teaching kids the five easy steps for hand-washing . And this is our research bullet number three. So teaching children the five easy steps for hand washing. So first we wet and then we lather with soap and then we scrub for 20 seconds. So you know, lots of songs we can sing for 20 seconds. And then we rinse and then we dry. And the key times to wash your hands. I what we're going to talk about next, but I want to go back to this wet, lather, scrub for 20 seconds. Rinse and dry.

Mackenzie J.:

Okay. I feel like that could, that could be a song itself, right? Like, okay, I'm not going to make it, but like what leather, scrub, rinse and dry.

Lori:

Or my brain. I was thinking, Oh well, this is really important for Mackenzie because she has a preschooler. And then I thought , uh, Lori, do you want your college age daughter to wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry? Yep . You want your high schooler to? Do , do we , do you need to call your daughter um at work right now and tell her to wait. Yeah. Actually I actually do.

Mackenzie J.:

So it's a good reminder for all of them.

Lori:

Group text soon. Yes.

Mackenzie J.:

But they do, the CDC provides a nice kind of long list of times that we might not always think of like, Oh, okay. Yeah. We maybe think of the like after the bathroom kind of hand-washing, but there's actually a decent list. So I'll do a , I'll do a few and then you do a few.

Lori:

Okay, excellent.

Mackenzie J.:

So,we want to be washing our hands before, during, and after preparing food. Before eating food. Before and after caring for someone who is sick. Um, particularly with vomiting or diarrhea and before or after treating a cut or a wound. I don't always think of that. Right. Like getting out the bandaid like, alright , I need to wash. So there's a few more there, you want to cover them ?

Lori:

Yes. Okay. So these are the afters. So after using the toilet, after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet. After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing after touching an animal, animal food or animal waste after handling pet or food treats. Oh, after handling pet food or treats and after touching garbage. Sorry. Yeah . Well I hadn't read that one before. Yeah, there's so many times. Gosh, I just gave my dog a treat to be quiet before we started recording and I didn't go wash my hands.

Mackenzie J.:

Yeah. So it was, it made me think a little of like, okay. Yeah. Basically like do something, take out. Like we took out the garbage this morning, like all right , need to wash it . And I mean that's the thing that I normally do, but it's like thinking about it in the list of like how many of those things I would do throughout the day and how often I need to wash each time. Like, okay.

Lori:

Exactly. All right . Yeah , this is, this is definitely making me think that , uh, we're going to , we're going to have a little, little teaching session before my children start doing their homework. Ah , you're going to be sorry for this. Right.

Mackenzie J.:

Okay. So I did, I have a question for you specifically about this one. You used to teach preschool, right? You've mentioned that before, like on the podcast. So I feel like you have like a world of expertise there . Like what tips do you have, right? Part of what you teach in preschool is kind of that focus on hand-washing. What tips do you have? .

Lori:

Tips. Um, as soon as they're done washing, they're going to go touch something that you know, needs, it never fails, right? So you get everything all washed up and everything's clean. And then someone has to use the bathroom. Or someone sneezes. Or you know, someone drops a spoon on the. I can remember specifically times where, you know, we were washing up for snack time or lunchtime and we'd, you know , we'd get washed and we'd be sitting. Sitting at the table and someone had dropped the spoon on the ground and they'd pick tthe spoon up and you know, they grabbed the, they'd touched the floor, grab the spoon, and they'd put it on the table and then someone else would grab the spoon and say, now that spoon is dirty and now you have two sets of hands that are dirty. You know, I think that just the, the repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. And you know, it's practice, practice, practice, practice. Talking about why it's important and why are we cleaning the doorknobs. Why, you know, if I just walk around the house and clean the doorknobs , I'm not teaching anyone and guess who's going to keep cleaning the door knobs me? Why don't we take this as a moment to say, Hey, you know what, here's why I'm doing this. Here's the extra precautions that we're taking. And this is why even little kids explaining and you know, not, not as a way to , to make fear or you know, create more , um, apprehensiveness, but just as a , these are just things we do to stay healthy. This is how we keep our bodies healthy.

Mackenzie J.:

And I was actually having a conversation with my preschooler yesterday about it and w e're talking about germs and I 'm understanding sick germs and how they can be passed, you know, if we sneeze and cough and when we're touching things and just k ind o f having that conversation. But I think that's a hard thing for a lot of parents. Like how much do I say? How much do I not say, u h, what is my child ready for? Like my three year old versus an eight year old versus a 14 year old. And what does that conversation look like? And I know the CDC, right? We have some other steps here kind of as our last thing that we wanted to cover. U h, because it is, it's important to have these conversations with kids, r ight?

Lori:

Research. Tidbit number four is exactly talking about that. What are some recommendations the CDC has for talking about what's going on? So a couple of items are taking the time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID19 outbreak, answering questions and sharing facts in a way that your child or teen can understand. Again, not to create more fear or apprehension, but you know, just sharing it . Sometimes fear is created when we don't say anything. No one is talking about this, but I'm hearing these things, I'm seeing these things, you know, and in the case of my teenager. Oh gosh, you know, she's hearing all kinds of things. So you know, in that kind of respect, I kind of need her , you know, real all that back in. Another item is to reassure them that they're safe. Let them know it's okay if they feel upset and share with them how you deal with your own stress. You know, how do you deal with not feeling, u m, you know, well, how do you deal with being upset so they can learn how to cope from you? Sometimes we think we need to hide our feelings. We need to hide these things from them. And what they really need to see is how we've, how we've packed our own toolbox full of coping strategies. Now what are some things that we're doing?

Mackenzie J.:

Yeah, I'm , I talk on here about sometimes like that I say I need space and it's this ongoing joke with my family. Like, Oh, McKenzie needs space . Uh , but it is, you know, there's , and that is a way when I feel overstimulated or stressed or, you know, whatever the strong feeling might be that like, I need space . Like I am, I might, I might go take a minute. Like even just like walk outside, walk along our front side , walk in , walk back in. Uh, that is a way that I cope and that's like, my family knows that.

Lori:

Yeah. And that's the third item that the CDC has here is sharing them. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so they can learn how to cope from you. So I can't wait to see my first, a video from you of , , having her own space. And so the fourth one is limiting your family's exposure to news coverage of the events . I including social media and children may misinterpret what they hear. Boy, I know that, you know, the stories I've already heard from my teenager. They're misinterpreting things and what they hear can be frightening about something they don't understand. And sometimes, you know, as schools close, as information has come to them, you know, they have questions and there are no answers right now. And you know, there were bits and pieces, school will be closed for this amount of time. What about, you know, what about all our extracurricular activities? What about all our practices? And what about the seniors? What about, what about, what about , um, so limiting, you know, some of that has to, has to come with those boundaries of, okay, now I know what you've heard. Let's , let's reel this back in and take it in bites and pieces. And one way to do that is to keep up with regular routines . So that's another item the CDC talks about is if schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities or relaxing and fun activities. Uh, so keeping up with those regular routines in some way, shape or form , uh, while adhering to the guidelines from the CDC.

Mackenzie J.:

Totally. And I think when we were kind of looking at this list and when I did a teaser recently, you know, talking about this post coming out or this podcast coming out , uh, talking about that normal schedule and it's like, but kids aren't in school like, but my kids aren't in school. We don't have a normal schedule. It's like, you're right, this is, this is unfamiliar territory for most of us. And so figuring out what that normal can be for awhile, even if, okay, in the morning we sit down and there's breakfast, right? Like that's a routine. And you know, even if it's depending on how structured of a day works well for your family. Yeah . But yeah, setting up some morning activities or times when they're checking in if there was virtual homework or something. Uh , but like we all sit down and we eat supper together or we follow the same bedtime routine. Those kinds of simple things throughout the day can create that familiar familiarity for little kids. And big kids, right? Like I know there's going to be a time when we check in. I know there might be parents that are working from home with their kids home with them. And so it's like, okay, yep , mom or dad is working at the table. We want you to be doing your own thing. Um, but I know there is a time, right, that'll have a chance to chicken. So it's finding what that normal can be with some familiarity.

Lori:

And that goes right along, right alongside with the last item, which is to be a role model. So you need to take breaks yourself. You need to get plenty of sleep and exercise. Eat well, connect with your friends and family members. I've seen some really cool things happening as well on social media. Um, you know, people having free concerts, free music concerts , um , musicians playing music, taking time to do that. Um, companies having the exercise videos , um , out for free this time around. Many, many , uh, companies that are associated with schools and school activities, whether they're educational, they're opening up their programs for free during this time. And so, you know, really taking advantage of those opportunities because that helps you to be a role model. This is what I'm going to do to keep myself healthy. To adhere to the guidelines and to de-stress. Absolutely you know being that role model. So those are our research tidbits today from the CDC. Remember this is today March 17th, 2020 things might change.

Mackenzie J.:

Yeah. And that kind of leads us right into your reality, right? So we talked about understanding if kids who are at higher risk and you know, the washing your hands and their recommendations and then how we actually talk with our kids. And so as you think about taking this information into your day to day, whatever your day to day looks like right now. Even if it's not your usual day to day. Um. We're going to be talking in our live next week about our favorite strategy of stop, breathe, talk. Uh , but encouraging to give everyone, including yourself, a little grace, right? Using our skills that we have to navigate when things might be stressful and things like that. So stop, breathe, talk is our favorite strategy for that. But then I also wanted to share, we have two blogs, one of which just posted yesterday about , um, a link to some of these resources that we've cited in this podcast. And so you can go to our blog, find those links so that you can get directly those information. Maybe you heard it here the first time you're going to need a refresh or something. You can find those links in our blog. And, but the other thing that we're coming out with is a list of some basic things to do with our kids. We kind of split it, so maybe we have this extra time and in some ways that might feel stressful, you know, maybe you're trying to work and have kids home or maybe you're stressed about other things about not being at work or whatever it might be. Uh, but that you do have this extra time at home if you haven't it right now. And so we have a list kind of split into things that your kids could maybe do independently, depending on their age and things you could do together. Right? So if you do need that break, whether it's to work, whether it's to take a breath, whatever it might be , uh , we can check out those resources. So courage you to give everyone a little bit of grace and uh, use that stop. breathe, talk we always talk about.

Lori:

.]\lAbsolutely. Great ideas. Thanks.

Mackenzie J.:

Yeah, so I guess that brings us to the actual Stop. Breathe. Talk. space. Right, right. Uh, so if Mackenzie DeJong wants to join us here… here she is.

Mackenzie D.:

Hello! So I've kind of gone back and forth on this today just because it is a heavy topic. We want to, in some cases, we want to maybe escape from some of that heavy, some, some of those heavy thoughts, so I was trying to decide what question to ask. You've answered kind of what I had in mind, but I still think it's an appropriate question. Um, for parents and I guess my question is helping parents, what is one thing that maybe you've done or something that you've seen that is a really good idea to either help relieve some of the stress or the anxiety around it? Um, maybe keep their head on straight. I know for me, I've been, and you two have heard this from me, that I've been really overwhelmed with everything and just the stress of, just the stress of everything has kind of gotten the best of me the past couple of days. So what would be something that you have done or plan to do that maybe you could share with the people listening?

Mackenzie J.:

I have one, Lori.

Lori:

Okay, good!

Mackenzie J.:

I'm ready to go first. Uh, I like this question by the way. So I would say from one parent to another that something I've done is kind of making my own plan for self-care. So, right. So like things are changing day by day and we get new news or you know, whatever it might be. Like it can feel overwhelming. And so having your own plan for me, uh, over the weekend I took a break from scrolling my social media. It was like I'm getting, I'm taking in all of this information and it's everything I'm seeing. And it was like creating a feeling I didn't want. Right. I was feeling like overburdened and anxious and it was like, you know what, I need some space to process this in my own reality. And so that was part of my self-care plan was taking that break from scrolling social media. Uh, but then also I've been thinking intentionally about how can I get outside, how can I get some fresh air, right? I'm in my house, we're in the house. Uh, but yeah, taking that time for self-care because it is a unique opportunity, right, to have this much time at home. And so right there can be a lot of positive things that come from this. But uh, if we can keep our head on straight and part of that for me is focusing on how I'm going to take care of myself and how I'm going to keep a level head. Uh, so yeah, plan for your own self-care.

Lori:

That's great. The, so they, I would add on to that in this way, in that we can lose track of time easily. And so I have a child that I do a lot of alarms and reminders with, because, just because of her special need and time doesn't always make sense to her. And so we use her phone, um, and alarms to remind her of those things. And so I would remind you to set a reminder or an alarm on your phone that says, you know what, it is time to do some self-care. And so I know that I can get head-down into work or head-down into a project and look up and it's two and a half, three hours later. That hasn't happened for a long time.

Mackenzie J.:

But it does occasionally!

Lori:

So, you know, stepping back and, and thinking about, okay, I need to remind myself… and then what you're also doing is giving yourself permission. And we absolutely need to give ourselves permission to take that time. And honestly, maybe it's, it's things like, I need to remind myself to - my children are older - I need to set a reminder that says go touch base with them. They have been in their own areas of the house for X amount of time. I need to touch base with them and make sure, you know, that they're, that they're taking care of themselves as well. Giving yourself permission to set those reminders and checking in on your friends and neighbors would be another one. I think that one of the, one of the things that we've learned with another curriculum that we teach is that when we care for others, there is this residual impact on our own self-care that is very positive, and research shows that by caring for others, by touching base with others, and letting them know you care about them, you are actually positively impacting your own self-care. So those two.about them, you are actually positively impacting your own self care. So those two.

Mackenzie J.:

Linking them together today.

Lori:

Good question, Kenzie.Her only instructions to us where you cannot use Stop. Breathe. Talk.

Mackenzie J.:

And we’re like okay….

Mackenzie D.:

I think I confused them because I, I wanted to make sure that… we use Stop. Breathe. Talk. That's kind of the core of everything, but to expand on that and maybe find some other tools that parents might be able to use. So that's why I beforehand challenged them to not use Stop. Breathe. Talk. but Stop. Breathe. Talk. is also very valid and a very good tool.

Mackenzie J.:

We like that . Thanks Kenz.

Mackenzie D.:

Yeah, see you later.

Lori:

So today, just reminding you that this is the information that we have today, March 17th, 2020. We know things are going to change rapidly and we just want you to know that we will keep coming at you with bonus episodes as we need. We're going to keep dropping things in our blog regarding how you can be at home and create space for yourself while keeping your children active and engaged in their schoolwork as well. And next week, Mackenzie alluded to this, is that we'll be live on Facebook so you might see additional posts. We have done some prerecorded things. We do have another prerecorded session that comes into our regular pro… “regularly scheduled programming!”.

Mackenzie J.:

I knew you were going to say that!

Lori:

Um, but we want you to know that we are being responsive to everything and so please do drop us a line, uh, if you have questions specifically.

Mackenzie J.:

Yeah. Also that kind of wraps it up, right? We've been able to walk through some trustworthy, fact-based information for families. So we just want to say thanks for joining us today on the Science of Parenting podcast. Remember, you can subscribe to our weekly audio or video podcast, the audio on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. You can always watch the video show each week and once a month, next week, you can join us live and we will take your comments and questions.

Lori:

So come along with us as we tackle the ups downs, the ins and outs, around the research and reality of the Science of Parenting.

Narrator:

The Science of Parenting is a research-based education program hosted by Lori Hayungs and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong with research and writing by Barbara Dunn-Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This program is brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext.