Starting the Conversation While at Home
With Stay At Home orders in place throughout the nation, parents and caregivers have had to supplement and support distance learning while schools are closed. Use this time at home to start a conversation with your child. COVID-19 can be a great jumping off point to talk with your kids about germs, diseases, and ways to protect their health – and the health of others. Talk With Your Kids (TWYK) has you covered with messages and activities you can do at home or by zoom with the kids in your life, and relate them back to our current situation.
If you have started to explain COVID-19 to your child, and discuss ways we can all prevent the spread of the virus - you have opened the door for other conversations about important health issues, including sexually transmitted infection (STI) and pregnancy prevention.
Here are some age-appropriate activities from our Timeline User Guide that you can do at home with your kids:
Wash your Hands! (ages 1-5)
We know everyone is already washing their hands multiple times a day. Use handwashing as a chance to begin to introduce the idea of germs and viruses and how someone can protect themselves with handwashing. Practice counting to 20 or singing your favorite song while washing.
Cover your Cough (ages 2-8)
If your child sneezes or coughs, remind them to cover their mouth to keep from spreading germs. Remind them that illnesses can be passed from one person to another through germs that can be easily spread by sneezing and coughing. Model this behavior yourself even when at home.
Grow a Flower (ages 5-8)
Get a small disposable cup, some soil, and some seeds from a plant store or online. Have your child put the soil into the cup, plant the seed, and then water it. Watch over the coming days and weeks as it grows. Explain that this is similar to how babies grow inside people. It takes time, care, and the right conditions to grow a baby.
Teachable Moments (ages 5-18)
You may be watching more TV shows or movies together with your family while current stay-at-home orders are in place. Use this as a chance to start a conversation. If you see examples of healthy or unhealthy relationships, talk about pregnancy or STIs, or homophobia or other prejudices, use this example as a jumping off point to start a conversation with your child. You can pause what you are watching and ask your child what they saw and what they think.
Find a Clinic near You (ages 13-18)
While many health care visits are moving online due to COVID-19 and non-essential visits to doctors’ offices or clinics are being postponed, you can still find a clinic near you and talk to your teen about the importance of routine medical visits. You can help them think through how they would make an appointment or show them how to set up a telemedicine visit at home. Consider making a list of questions they will ask their doctor in the future together. These steps can help your child prepare to visit a doctor on their own.
Learn About Condoms (ages 13-18)
Ask your teen if they can put the steps to using an external condom in the correct order in this game from Sex, Etc. If you have condoms in the house or can pick some up the next time you are doing a grocery or pharmacy run, practice how to use them. Fill a condom with water and learn how much they can stretch.
Take advantage of this time at home to start an important conversation or engage in one of these activities with your family. While it can sometimes be uncomfortable, talking to your kids is an important way to teach them how to protect themselves.