Are your kids afraid of the Swine Flu? What are you telling them to do to be safe? According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), THE #1 most effective behavior you and your kids can do is wash your hands Several Times a Day, after bathroom visits (of course) but also after coughing, sneezing or blowing noses .
Most kids are going to NOT get the swine flu…but this current events story is full of lessons to be learned. We can use these aspects as a "teaching opportunity" about the science of sickness and flu transmission:
The virus is an invisible teeny critter that is passed from person to person (that's the science of "germs")
Sneezing, Coughing and hand-to-hand transfer are the likely ways to pass the "germs" along.
We each have a responsibility to prevent the spread if WE are potentially contagious –by staying home if we feel sick and always covering our sneezes and coughs to prevent air-borne transmission, just in case.
We can protect ourselves by avoiding germ pathways into our bodies–washing our hands frequently. Since we're always touching our faces with our hands, from hand to eyes/mouth/nose are the likely way to invite the germs into our bodies.
Be pro-active–Keep our bodies flu-resistant; eat healthy foods, get plenty of rest. Our bodies are designed to resist the "attack", but when there's a threat, we need to keep our resources optimal!
Kids often hear only portions of what we say, and they may be afraid due to the reactions they hear from us or inadvertently on the news. It's important to assuage their fears and let them know that (at the moment, at least) they have behavioral tools they can use to build up their own resistance, reduce the spread and keep themselves healthy!
And if you want to see a really graphic demo (although it's totally "gross"), check out the YouTube demo of a "sneeze". Yuck! But it sure makes a point. Cover your mouth and use a tissue or the crook of your sleeve. And wash your hands….wash your hands…wash your hands.