Mommy Minute: How to explain ‘social distancing’ to kids

Local

UPMC Pinnacle’s Dr. Melissa Brown says it makes sense that kids don’t fully understand the new normal we are now living in.

“What I’m hear most, especially from my teenage clients, is they’re bored,” she said.

When explaining it to them, especially young kids, the child psychologist says we should keep our language simple and positive. When explaining why they can’t have playdates, don’t talk about social distancing, flattening the curve, overwhelming the hospital system or even keeping the family “safe.”

“Kids don’t need to know all of those details,” Dr. Brown said.

Instead she suggests positive, straight-forward language.

“We’re not having play dates because we want to keep our germs to ourselves and not share them and we’re just trying to keep everybody else healthy,” she said.

Dr. Brown said it’s normal for kids to really miss their friends.

“It really is a natural part of their development to want to be connected to their friends,” she said. “Most kids are absolutely starved of that.”

Instead, Dr. Brown suggests online play dates as a way for them stay socially connected from a safe distance.

“We do have to get quite creative right now with the way we’re connecting our kids,” she said. “Before we were cringing at the idea of them on their iPads and playing those online games with their friends, but it’s a good time to let them do that.”

If your kids push back, or argue that other kids seem to be allowed to play with each other in person, Dr. Brown suggests you stay firm about your own family’s rules, but also give them options. Instead of only telling them what they can’t do, she says we should remind them about the various things they still can do.

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