Social distancing is a new concept for all of us – and as hard as it is for adults to adopt, getting children to understand and cooperate with our new normal is super challenging. Here are some tips to help your little ones put social distancing into practice.
“Six feet apart” may not mean much to children and could be hard for them to understand why it’s important to follow. Here are some simple ways to help them visualize the space they need to maintain between themselves and others.
“Follow the leader”
Play “follow the leader”: Children learn by example and by watching and imitating your behavior. Practice having them follow you while keeping their distance and avoiding certain obstacles in your path.
At home, practice “social distancing” by sitting at either ends of the table or the couch to rehearse for the real thing. In public, have them literally follow in your footsteps, so that keeping their distance becomes a reflex.
Draw a circle with chalk outside to show them the distance they need to keep from others. Once they’ve tried walking around inside the circle, that space will be easier to imagine in real life.
Alternatively, you can use a jump rope to help them understand the arc of space that it draws around them. If they can imagine jumping down the street without bumping into anyone, they’re doing a good job!
“Dance, dance, dance”
Invent a little dance, where everyone dances with their arms outstretched without touching the other dancers. Help them understand that the same rules apply to walking down the street.
Tell them that – like their favorite superheroes – we all walk around with an invisible forcefield that can’t be invaded. Have fun pretending to “bump into” each other’s force fields that start six feet away from our bodies.
That’s it! These tips help explain the concept of social distancing to your children and turns something that could be scary into a fun bonding experience.