As children return to school in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, renowned peaceful parenting coach and emotional intelligence specialist, Abimbola Olayinka, has said safety is now of utmost priority, urging parents, caregivers and schools to adopt appropriate measures.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos, Olayinka, the Founder of Galparenting Place and Peaceful Parenting Hub, noted that preparation used to be “centred on the mental and emotional wellness of the child,” but that now “the safety of children now holds utmost priority.
“Regardless of the mode of learning your child’s school adopts— hybrid (a mix of virtual and in-person learning) or physical — planning your child’s safety measures would help you and your child to reduce anxiety.”
READ ALSO: Pandemic worse than Covid-19 coming — WHO
The positive psychology practitioner, who is also a certified coach from the Academy of Parenting coaches from Corte Portino Menifee, explained how to help children internalise social distancing, use of face mask, washing of hands, regulation of contact with surfaces, keeping personal belongings ‘safe’ and what to do if symptoms begin to manifest.
According to her, “The two-metre social distancing rule is believed to minimise the risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. So show your child how to distance him/herself from others.
“Their school may adopt distancing strategies (such as dividing up classes or spacing desks and chairs), but you shouldn’t withhold educating them. Adopt the two-metre rule at home.
“Let your child know why they must avoid physical contacts— hugs, handshakes— with their classmates, playmates or friends.”
On the use of face masks, the John Maxwell leadership and entrepreneurship trainer said: “The World Health Organisation, WHO, recommends the use of cloth face masks in public places (schools, marketplaces, offices, and public institutions) where it isn’t feasible to avoid physical contacts.
“So prioritise wearing face masks for your children. Let them know the importance of keeping it on at all times, except when they must take it off (during lunch, etc).”
Teaching the proper way for children to handle face masks, she said: “It must cover the lower part of the face— from the bridge of the nose down to the mouths.
“Prepare at least a minimum if two masks for each day – one to be worn to school, and a new piece kept in a sealed, transparent nylon. Label your child’s mask to avoid mixing it up with others.
“One parent recommends stitching their initials with a needle and thread. Practice taking it off and putting it on and instruct them not to trade their masks with anyone as each child should have a unique mask.”
Olayinka said that parents should practice handwashing at home with their children and this routine should last not less than 20 seconds. Hands should be washed just before they step out for school, and immediately after returning.
“In the absence of soap and water, use alcohol-based sanitisers to clean hands. Instruct them not to touch their face immediately after washing. Teach them to cough or sneeze into their elbows (or a tissue) and then wash immediately after.”
On disinfection, she said regularly-touched surfaces should be disinfected, including doorknobs, slabs, and faucets.
“Wash face masks immediately after use with warm water and soap and do not pile with other dirty clothes.
“However, if you think your child shows symptoms,” Olayinka said, “parents should not panic as it clogs the mind from being logical.
“Stay at home; this is very important. Take a temperature reading; it is recommended that parents do this at least once daily.
“Contact your doctor and do not attempt to treat the symptoms through herbal or un-recommended means.
“Each child should get a flu shot at least once a season. Don’t skip the vaccination process. While the flu shot will not prevent COVID-19 infection, it will minimise the effects of the virus on the vaccinated child,” she added.