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 risk of transmission being highest at onset and 1-2 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:

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. As young children are not able to keep their distance, it is recommended that they spend time with other children in smaller groups only. The groups can be a bit bigger for older children who are able to keep the required distance. The children should preferably be mainly with the same children who are in their cohort in kindergarten, school or organised leisure activities. Limit playdates with additional children outside of those they spend time with in kindergarten or school.

The motivation is to reduce the risk of transmission. If a child should turn ill and covid-19 is confirmed, everyone who has been in close contact with the child during the 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms will be put in quarantine. It will then 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, and 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. 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.
  • For older children and youth, the recommendation still is to keep a distance of at least one metre to others.
  • 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.

Accompanying persons should avoid staying in common areas connected to the activity, except when they deliver and pick up the children. They should also keep a distance of at least one metre to other children and adults.

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.

How to talk to children and youth about corona

It is important to talk to children and youth to avoid fear and to build security now that their days differ from what they are used to.

  • Talk to the children as to why our daily life is different. Explain to them that this is to stop the coronavirus from spreading.
  • Ask them what information they have heard or read and if there is anything in particular that they are worried about.
  • 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.
  • Do not unduly stress your children – coughing and sneezing is normal, and the majority of people who are infected by the coronavirus will experience only mild symptoms.
  • Discuss whether there really is a continuous need for checking up on the news, and preferably make an agreement with the child on the frequency. Sit alongside the child and talk about what you see, hear and read.
  • It is important to listed to the child. Be present in the conversation and let the child speak out.
  • Remember that younger children in particular will "fill out the blanks" by using their own imagination when they encounter something they do not fully understand.
  • Be concrete, clear and concise. Repeat by using different words.
  • Explain how infection occurs (airborne transmission via droplets by close encounter) – and how to avoid transmission (good hand hygiene, coughing into the crook of your elbow, etc.)
  • Be clear on how a sense of feeling afraid, sad or angry is totally normal now that their days are so different, and they cannot do the things they are used to.
  • Tell them that thousands of doctors and nurses and others now ensure that those who turn sick will receive the treatment they need.
  • Prepare the children for the adjustments that will continue in the weeks to come, e.g. that parents might need to work from home, that there will be fewer visits by friends and family and that travels, birthdays etc. will be postponed or differ from what they are used to.
  • 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.

Also remember:

Children and youth will often turn to the internet for information. Check on their internet habits and ask if they have read anything online about the coronavirus today.

Youth

Youth and teenagers often talk mostly to their peers and can easily pick up on incorrect information. Make it easy for them to turn to you. Don't forget that teenagers also can be worried and in need of an adult to talk to.

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).

 

This film is made for children and youth. Subtitles are available in several languages by clicking the little wheel at the bottom.

  • Click on the cogwheel symbol at the bottom when you open the film
  • Remove "Autoplay" if this shows up in red
  • Choose "Settings"
  • Click "Subtitles"
  • Choose "Automatic translation"
  • Choose language

Subtitles in the language of your choice will appear (sound is in Norwegian only). We cannot guarantee that the auto-translation is completely correct. The film is also interpreted in sign language.

Tips for mastering everyday life in the family

​Here are some tips that can be of help now that everyday life has taken a different turn:

  • Keeping a daily rhythm with regular meals and bedtime routines is beneficial.
  • Focus on activities that are positive and that you can all join in on as a family. Watch a film, listen to music, go for a walk or play a game etc. Make sure to get together during meals.
  • Keep in mind that you are a role model to your kids. How you handle stress, how the adults talk between themselves about the situation and how you react will affect the children.
  • A sense of fear, panic, sadness and loneliness are normal reactions to extraordinary situations. Children are sensitive to the emotions of adults, and thus it is better to be open about how you feel than to hide your feelings.
  • Children will react in different ways. Some may seem at ease when you talk to them, yet later be concerned. Be extra attentive in the evening and at night, when many children will become more anxious.
  • It is important to stay updated with the news, but it can be a good idea to limit the use of social media etc. if this leads to an increased stress level and undue concern.
  • Reach out to others - do not be afraid to ask for help.

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.