While the coronavirus has only impacted a very small number of children, kids can still be carriers of the virus. So it’s important for parents to relay simple, but effective health and safety tips to their children to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Dr. Tyler Sexton, a pediatrician and member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council suffered a lot as a child. Early on he was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy that made it difficult for him to walk. He was also diagnosed with a “lazy eye.” Against all odds, he rose to prominence as a pediatric hospitalist, which means he works primarily in hospitals. He cares for children in various areas of hospitals including the pediatric ward, labor and delivery, the emergency department, and the pediatric intensive care unit.
As he works to heal children in hospitals, Dr. Sexton sees the impact infectious diseases like the coronavirus can have on kids. He points to prevention as the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19, and provides parents with easy, practical safety tips to protect their households. Here’s a short video he made on how to do that.
Safety Tips for Kids
Dr. Sexton explains that as parents, you can tell your kids to take these easy steps to lessen their chances of getting coronavirus.
- Wash your hands: This is obvious, but not everyone practices it. It’s important to wash your hands when you come inside the house, after going to the bathroom, and before you handle food. If soap and water are not immediately available, you can also get rid of most germs using a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Don’t put things in your mouth: Babies and toddlers do this the most, because it’s part of how they explore their world. But this is one way germs can spread, and coughs, colds and other illnesses can take root. So parents, safety tips include doing whatever you can to keep your little ones from putting toys and other items in their mouth.
- Practice social distancing: It’s tough to stay away from grandma’s house or not to have grandma and grandpa come over for a visit. But during this time, many are staying at home and keeping visits from others down to a minimum to slow the spread of coronavirus. Dr. Sexton says it’s important to practice social distancing right now, even from grandma.
- Have fun: Interactive play helps kids stay healthy and meet their development milestones. So encourage playtime for your kids and don’t forget to join in the fun! One fun interactive game for kids lets them pretend to be zoo animals. Find out more at Pathways and give it a try.
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Small Numbers for Small Patients
Dr. Sexton explains that out of the about 150,000 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, only 1.7% of those cases were children (from information as of 4/2/20. Stats change daily). And of that amount, only .5% needed breathing help and hospitalization. While every case is sad, especially for those who have lost loved ones, the small number is good news for parents.
That means the cold, fever, or cough your child may be experiencing is probably just that: a cold, fever or cough. Dr. Sexton says about 90% of these symptoms are nothing more. But he emphasizes as part of the safety tips he provides, parents should remain in communication with their child’s pediatrician in case the symptoms turn into something more serious. He also tells parents to talk to their child’s doctor about getting vaccines.
Fight Your Fear, Feed Your Faith
Dr. Sexton says he’s not trying to minimize the seriousness of the coronavirus or its global spread when he gives these stats. He just wants parents to know that there’s no need to live in fear.
The pediatrician encourages parents who remain scared of this virus to feed their faith as a way to fight their fear. He points to 2 Timothy 1:7 as evidence, which says “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
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