SPECIAL: Coronavirus family guide: Keeping kids healthy now

Explaining risks; beating stress; time for a puppy?  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌    ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  
 
KIDS AND FAMILIES VIEW ONLINE
National Geographic
THE BIG QUESTION:
WASHING HANDS? CHECK. NOW HOW DO KIDS STAY MENTALLY HEALTHY?
Sunday, March 29, 2020
PEOPLEIMAGES / GETTY IMAGES
By Rachel Buchholz, KIDS AND FAMILY Editor in Chief

This weekend I went bear hunting.

Not for real bears, of course. That’s just not something we animal lovers at National Geographic would advocate. But more and more communities are holding “bear hunts,” in which residents place teddy bears and other stuffed creatures in their windows. The idea: While parents take children out to get some much-needed fresh air during these stay-at-home days, children looking out for their “new neighbors” get a surprising—and fun—activity.

A similar idea: a bio blitz—identifying as many living species as you can in a backyard or a block.

These types of activities are becoming more and more important in these increasingly scary times. Parents may be mastering the wash hands, eat right, sleep, and wash hands part, but addressing a child’s mental health is something entirely different. “We’re only starting to understand what the pandemic might mean for children’s mental health and emotional well-being,” writes Jenny Marder for Nat Geo. Her article has insights into what the experts are seeing, as well as tips on how to keep your children mentally healthy.

That means maintaining a flexible schedule and being open and honest about what’s going on. (Here’s an article about talking to kids about coronavirus.) Getting outside is also an important mental health booster.

The hardest one? Exuding a sense of calm yourself—even if you have to fake it.

Maybe a few random teddy bear sightings can help.

What kinds of fun activities are you doing with your children to maintain positive mental health? We want to hear from you!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOSE LUIS PELAEZ INC / GETTY IMAGES
Why (most) kids have a better shot: An early study from China shows more than 90 percent of pediatric cases involving coronavirus present as moderate, mild, or without symptoms entirely. That’s not to say that kids don’t get infected at the same rate as adults—they do. Caveats before you let those kids loose: children are getting sick; some have underlying health conditions that make it worse; a few have died; and many kids, unencumbered, would carry the virus to more vulnerable adults and kids.

Does that mean I still have to eat my vegetables? Experts say yes, kids. Keeping immune systems at their highest levels is more important than ever, writes Nat Geo’s Christine Dell’Amore. Thankfully, “kids already tend to have healthier routines than their parents do,” says Laura Gray, a clinical psychologist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. So, parents, no peanut butter breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the kids—or for you!

If animals can do it, you can: Social distancing, that is. Some animals stay more than six feet away from perceived health threats precisely to keep sickness at bay, Nat Geo’s Sydney Combs reports. Some species, like chimps and honeybees, get aggressive to keep away intruders seen as health risks.

Family discussion (or not): 1. Is it time for a pet? Shelter adoptions are off the charts as we hunker down for the long haul. … 2. Is it time for an animal webcam? Here’s what Animals editor Rachael Bale recommends right now: “If it's the middle of the workday, and I need a moment to clear my head—Monterey Bay Aquarium's jelly cam, for sure,” Rachael says. “If I could use a smile, I'd go to the feed of senior dogs at Old Friends sanctuary.” Here are more ideas.

KEEPING YOU HEALTHY
Soaking up your senses ... with a forest
PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL MELFORD, NAT GEO IMAGE COLLECTION
Forest bathing: These days, non-parents might miss the socializing of the office and afterwork get-togethers. Some parents, however, might pine for the solitude of a commute, or simply a few hours out of the house. For those of you near uncrowded woods, forest bathing might be for you. This ancient Japanese practice, literally soaking your senses in nature, has been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. It also increases sleep duration and boosts the number of natural killer cells, says onetime skeptic Kelly DiNardo, who wrote about it for Nat Geo. (Subscribers can read the article here).

I wanna dance with somebody: Virtual dance parties are booming online, including an Instagram Live event last weekend that drew more than 160,000 viewers. Another option: Sing or play a musical instrument solo or with neighbors from rooftops, balconies, porches, and windows as locked-down families have done in places like Italy, Spain, Montreal, and Dallas. Beyond balconies, videos of musicians gathering remotely to record a song—such as this, this, and this—could give you a shot of joy.

Beyond Zoom meetings: Tired of long video-conference calls during your work from home? Why not revisit your teenage glories on Xbox with a late-night or weekend video game session? Invite friends online around the world you haven’t hung out with for years? Or even friends nearby who you can’t invite over to the house right now? Everyone else is doing it.

TRY THIS: BOREDOM BUSTERS FOR KIDS
Brain games for kids
Keep kids’ brains active: Are your stir-crazy kids starting to act like animals? In honor of primatologist Jane Goodall’s 86th birthday on Friday, have children take this Quiz Whiz to test their smarts about chimps, gorillas, and other apes. The Nat Geo Kids website has tons of other learning resources for parents like science experiments, personality quizzes, animal facts, and homework tips. And our partners at Dr. Cool have a great kit for making slime.

We asked, you answered: Last week we asked you to tell us about activities you were doing with your kids to keep them occupied during the day. Two of your suggestions: 1) drawing simple maps of the neighborhood and asking youngsters to navigate on bike rides; and 2) playing indoor volleyball with balloons. Read the full list here, then give us more ideas!

One last thing: How does your kid channel wanderlust after the family spring vacation was canceled? Here's a list of 20 recommended children’s books by Nat Geo Travel’s Amy Alipio that transport readers to places like Paris, Nigeria, and Scotland. If you’ve got a more just-the-facts kind of kid, check out geographical knowledge, science discoveries, and animal stories in Nat Geo Kids Almanac 2020.

This newsletter was edited and curated by David Beard. If you want to receive this newsletter regularly, sign up here — or pass this along to a friend. We all need a little help these days. Have a safe and sane week ahead.

Subscribe here for Nat Geo Kids or Nat Geo Little Kids magazines.

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