In Troubling Times, The Values to Espouse with Kids—Promote Responsibility

A collective effort to tamp down the spread of the Coronavirus, among ALL members of the family provides an opportunity for parents to promote personal and community responsibility. Let’s embrace it so our kids are better prepared today and later in life.

In Bergen County, New Jersey, thousands of kids and their parents were given word from state and local officials that the public school system would be closed on the week of March 16th.

If this has not already happened in your school district yet, plan on it happening. It cannot hurt to prepare, and by doing so I am not suggesting that you rush out to the supermarket to horde food and toilet paper. I’ve witnessed this firsthand and it’s rather pathetic. There’s only so much a person can eat and process through one’s digestive system, and given supermarkets will remain open, those who rush out to “stock up” are overreacting.


The better question parents can ask themselves is the following: what can I espouse to my children during this time, before or during a quarantine, that represent important lifelong lessons?

Here’s a humble suggestion from one dad: promote personal and social responsibility.

It’s our job as parents to promote security in times of distress and represent beacons of strength in the eyes of our children. Anything less, such as watching the news incessantly with your kids in tow to track the infection count, represents a disservice to your kids.

We’ve never faced anything like this in our lifetimes. Let’s use this opportunity to promote responsibility and face the challenge with our kids in tow and do our part to diminish the spread of the Coronavirus… right now.

Here are five tips for parents who are, or will have to manage, a quarantine and extended stay in their home:

Home Defense: Involve everyone in the house to clean the home from top to bottom. Disinfect countertops, phones, tablets, and vacuum/mop the floors. Use antibacterial wipes and bleach where you can. Start inside and check for things outside to put back in their proper space: sports equipment on the lawn, for example. It’s gratifying and important for everyone to know they are doing their part to make their house safe and clean.

Mandatory Gear Outside the Home: Anyone that leaves the house has to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Use it immediately after visiting a store, and upon returning home – take your shoes off and wash your hands, every time.

School Time/Play Time/Home Chores: Set a schedule just like teachers do at school. Set times when homework/studies have to be accomplished if your kids are not logging in for remote classwork. Provide time outside to play to get fresh air every day, or if the weather is bad, give them time to do as they wish (legos, gaming, etc.). Every day, assign one/all your kids with an important “home defense” task. This could be helping to clean dishes, organizing (and perhaps cleaning) their toys, helping a parent collect trash from bins around the house. Kids gravitate to schedules – empower them to feel like they are doing their part to keep their family safe.

Cancel all Sports/Recreational Activities: Does your son still have soccer practice, art class, or tennis lessons to attend? Keep your child home the first week and reevaluate the following. Whatever disappointed your child feels, explain to him/her that it’s the community’s collective responsibility to promote optimal health. You, as a parent, are ensuring your family is doing its part to contain the disease and your kids need to understand everyone in the family has to face the challenge together.

Facetime & Connecting with Others: Keep the phone handy to call family and friends and if you have the means to video chat with them, all the better. Provide your kids this opportunity every day. Schedule a time with close relatives so your kids can see and hear from them, and task those relatives to reinforce the process you are taking to promote responsibility. “It’s great to hear you’re helping to keep the house clean and studying hard. Good job!” When your kids hear this kind of feedback from relatives, it reinforces the efforts you are making to espouse responsibility.

Lastly, a lesson we can all use that the British taught us doing World War Two. During the bombings of London, the phrase, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” became part of the vernacular of the day. Londoners faced something far worse than what we are managing at present.

I cannot think of a better phrase. Let’s collectively promote responsibility when we’re dealing with this pandemic so that our kids are better prepared when they face a similar challenge later in life.

Lastly… Some great tips to clean one’s home, from the CDC.

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