Advice for parents, children and youth

Advice for parents on playdates and how to handle daily life, how to talk to children about corona and how to support the mental health of children and youth.

Baby girl playing with magnifying glass
Foto: Mostphotos/Shalamov (illustration)

Children and the coronavirus

Children seem to be less affected by the coronavirus disease (covid-19) than grown-ups. It is primarily children and adults with symptoms that are contagious, with the highest risk of transmission at onset and one-to-two days before the symptoms appear. As children show less symptoms than adults, they are also to a lesser extent contagious. Based on the follow-up of persons with covid-19 in Norway, children seem to infect others to a small extent.

Read more about covid-19 infection in children and adolescents (FHI).

What recommendations apply to play and socialising in kindergarten and school?

Now that kindergartens, schools and after school clubs are open, guidelines for infection control in kindergartens and schools have been prepared:

The level of infection is currently low and measures for kindergartens and schools can be eased. The guidelines include a model for measures specified for a green, yellow or red level (regjeringen.no) (in Norwegian). The level at any given time is determined by the health authorities and not the individual school.

The measures were at a red level from when the stepwise reopening of society started and up until early June. From June 2nd 2020 onwards kindergartens and schools can downgrade the measures to a level of yellow. This allows for kindergartens and schools to offer a more complete service while still following the recommendations for infection control.

The new guidelines do not affect the measures for infection control that applies to society in general.

What recommendations apply to play and socialising during leisure time?

Although the children now can spend time with others in kindergarten and school, it is still important that we follow the advice for infection control and limit the number of people with whom they are in close contacts during leisure time. 

The children should preferably mainly be with the same children who are in their cohort (group) in kindergarten, school or organised leisure activities. Avoid playdates with numerous additional children. Spending time with other children outside of these groups should be limited to children from their own local community.

Children do not need to be told to keep a distance while playing. The same applies to children who attend school together or take part in the same sports activities, or others who can be considered close friends of the child. Children can keep a distance to others who are not part of the groups mentioned.

Youth can also socialize more closely with a few selected friends/contacts to whom they do not need to keep a one metre distance and who can be counted as their close contact. They should keep a distance of at least one metre to others.

The motivation is to reduce the risk of transmission. It is better if we can limit the number of persons who would need to enter quarantine due to being a close contact to a child or youth if covid-19 is confirmed. In these situations, it will be an advantage if the child has been in contact with only a limited number of persons.    

Siblings can socialise as they normally do – this also applies to children living in two homes after divorce.

The main goal is to reduce the number of contacts as much as possible. The most important thing is that we take good care of each other by making sure we do not expose ourselves or others to a risk of being infected. In order to do so we need to increase the distance between us and limit the number of persons we spend time with.

  • Limit the number of children who meet during leisure time.
  • It is recommended to limit the number of children who meet for playdates or joint activities and who are not part of the same cohort (group). The goal is to avoid transmission.
  • The recommendation is to keep a distance of at least one metre.

The reason for these recommendations is that the risk of transmission increases with the number of people, the duration of social contact and with closer distance between people.

  • To meet up and play outdoors is preferred, rather than indoor activities.
  • Avoid playgrounds where many children meet at the same time. The recommendation to keep an increased distance to others apply here as well.
  • Wash hands often - both before, during and after playdates - and maintain good cough etiquette.
  • Shaking hands, hugging and other physical contact that is not required should as far as possible be avoided.

Children and youth with symptoms of respiratory infection should stay at home and not be with other children or youth outside of the family. This also applies when only mild symptoms are observed. Children living in two homes after divorce should preferably stay in one of the homes until the child has been free om symptoms for 24 hours. The parents are advised to cooperate in order to follow the public guidelines regarding transmission control.

Children and youth who are in home isolation or home quarantine should avoid contact with other children or youth outside the household. Parents can help out by making sure the children stay in touch via other means - over the phone, via video chat, etc.

Kids birthday parties

Birthday parties can be held now that kindergartens and schools are open, if the recommendations for infection control are followed. This includes:

  • No one who is ill can participate, even if their symptoms of a respiratory infection are only mild. This also applies to children and youth who are in quarantine or isolation.
  • Maintaining good hand hygiene must be possible. Washing or disinfection of hands should be easily accessible. Hands should be washed upon arrival, prior to eating and when the visit is over.
  • Those invited should preferably be from the child's own group (cohort) in school/kindergarten. For youth, it should be others in the same group or class as them in school. Keep in mind the size limit of a maximum 20 people for events on private grounds. The purpose of this is for children and young people to have a limited number of contacts.
  • Children can play together and socialise as they do in kindergarten/school, but unnecessary close contact such as hugging or shaking hands should be avoided.
  • Avoid the presence of other accompanying persons or participants. If it is necessary for some children, the accompanying person must keep a distance to the other children and adults and follow the advice for infection control.
  • Outdoors celebration is preferred. For indoor celebrations it is very important to have enough space available to allow for the recommended social distancing.
  • The parents of the birthday child, or alternatively the person organising the party, should strive to keep a distance to the other children with whom they are otherwise not in close contact.
  • Food - including cake - should be served in prepared portions. Remember to keep hands clean, both for those who serve and those who eat.

Organised leisure activities

Leisure activities are important for the physical and mental well-being of children and youth. The outbreak can last for a long time. It is therefore of great importance for children to be able to engage in leisure activities in a safe way in order to reduce the risk of infection.

Activities should primarily involve children from the same local community. It is wise to limit the number of leisure activities that involves participation in many different groups.

From June 1st 2020 the recommendations on keeping a physical distance of at least one metre is eased for children and youth 19 years of age or younger during organized sports activities. The exception to the one metre recommendation only applies to children and youth 19 years of age or younger during training. The exception applies both to indoors and outdoors training.

From June 15th, the recommendation on keeping a physical distance of at least one metre is eased for children and youth under the age of 20 who are attending summer school, summer camp, end-of-term celebrations, school-like sports / culture / leisure activities, including those organizing the event.

The size recommendation for groups is maintained with a maximum of 20 persons. Several groups of a maximum of 20 persons can be gathered, if the groups are kept separate and the advice for infection control can be followed both at an individual and at group level.

Sports teams/clubs/associations should, where possible, divide the participants into fixed groups preferably made up of individuals who also interact in other situations, such as the same local environment, school district etc.

Children and youth who participate in team sports or other sports activities that do not involve lasting/long-term close contact can perform the activity with the normal level of contact between participants provided the recommendations on group size and fixed groups (maximum 20 persons) are followed. This means that sports activities such as football and handball can be resumed for children and young people.

Training in sports that involve one-to-one contact between athletes, such as martial arts, wrestling, partner dance and similar activities can be resumed for children and youth provided the number of training partners is limited to a minimal number of fixed partners.

All changing rooms can now be used with a one metre distance between lockers. It is important to allow for a minimum of one metre distance between people in changing rooms and shower facilities, and that the toilet capacity is sufficient in terms of the number of people.

The measures are divided into levels of green, yellow and red level of measures (traffic light model). For further information, see guidelines for sports activities (in Norwegian).

The Government has decided that organised swimming, including swimming in school, can resume from June 1st, 2020 provided that the recommendations for infection control are followed. Read more about the guidelines for organised swimming at FHI.

Children and youth should arrive just at the scheduled starting time and leave straight after the activity. This is to avoid gathering of larger groups. Everyone is encouraged to limit the use of public transport as far as possible when travelling to and from the activity.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health provides advice for events and summer activities of longer duration for children and youth.

Being with grandparents

Can grandparents be with their grandchildren?

Some groups have an increased risk of a more severe progression of covid-19. The level of risk is divided into a slightly increased risk and a moderate or high risk. Read more about who this applies to and what advice applies to those in risk groups in a separate article.

The current level of infection in society is low, and persons with a slightly increased risk can essentially go on vacation with or be with their grandchildren. You are, however, encouraged to be extra attentive to the general transmission prevention measures, such as hand and cough hygiene, social distancing, and to stay at home given symptoms or illness.

If you belong to the category with a moderate or high level of risk, you need to asses on an individual basis who to spend time with and what precautions to take. When required, an individual assessment on the level of risk for a more severe progression of covid-19 should be made in consultation with your own doctor. See also travel advise for persons in risk groups and their relatives.

Corona as part of new everyday life – how to talk to children and youth

  • Give them intelligible and correct information. Make sure you do not exaggerate or trivialise. The disease is serious, but we are well prepared in Norway. We have a good overview of the infection situation and everyone who turns ill will receive proper medical treatment.
  • Explain how infection occurs, and how to avoid transmission:
    • wash your hands carefully and frequently
    • keep a distance to others
    • cough into the crook of your elbow
  • Prepare the children for the continued need for being cautious for months to come.
    • Many parents will still need to work from home.
    • There will be fewer visits by friends and family.
    • Travels, birthdays and other gatherings will differ from what they are used to prior to corona.
  • Explain to them that this will now be the situation for a period, that it will return to normal, but that we do not yet know when.
  • Children and youth will often turn to the internet for information. Ask if they have read anything online about the coronavirus today and take the time to listen and explain.

At ung.no you will find updated and useful information for young people between the age of 13 and 20. You can find answers to your concerns and you can post questions at ung.no/oss.

Do you need someone to talk to or chat with? You can find information on available helplines and chat services here (in Norwegian).

Discuss what to do if someone in the family feels unwell or should turn ill. Should a quarantine period become necessary: explain what this means and talk about how you can make this period as comfortable as possible.

The Norwegian centre for violence and traumatic stress studies (NKVTS) offers additional advice on how to tackle daily life in the time of corona, in several languages.