This is tip eight in a series from pediatrician Dr. Ray Fabius for families on maintaining health and wellness at home or on the front lines. Find more tips and actionable advice on our Dr. Ray resource page.
A tip on playdates during a pandemic
Last week, I shared some tips for explaining and practicing physical social distancing with children. Explaining social distancing and practicing it are two very different challenges. It can be difficult to help children understand why we must keep safe distances from each other, especially when it comes to their friends.
Here are the CDC’s recommendations for playdates with friends during this health emergency:
- Limit social interactions. The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. If you have playdates, keep the groups very small. Encourage older children to meet friends outside rather than inside. It’s easier to keep and maintain space between others in outdoor settings like parks.
- Practice social distancing. If you do have small meetups, consider hanging out with another family or friend who is also taking extra cautious measures to distance themselves from others like you. Always try to maintain a 6-foot distance from each other.
- Clean hands often. Make sure children practice preventive behaviors every day like washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important every time you are in a public place.
Remember, if children meet in bigger groups, it can put entire families at risk. Information about COVID-19 in children is somewhat limited, but current data suggests children with COVID-19 may only have mild symptoms. But they can still pass this virus onto others who may be at higher risk, including older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions.
Educational activities to help children understand
With precautions taken, families can use their best judgement to try one of these two scenarios for playdates with friends:
- In communities not experiencing any or many COVID-19 cases, families can organize small play dates in big open spaces like parks. If children play on the playground, frequent handwashing or sanitizing is a must. Encourage children to take turns and not play simultaneously on equipment. Going to a park should only be attempted if families believe they can maintain social distancing.
- The safest playdates are virtual playdates. Use laptops, tablets, and smartphones to connect with friends for read-alouds of their favorite books or an arts and crafts activity like drawing or painting. This is also a creative way to get virtual parenting help. Ask grandparents to read a story at the same time every day.
Resources to learn more about this topic