Most Oklahoma City metro school districts welcomed students back into the classroom.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise statewide, an Oklahoma City pediatrician is offering parents advice to help children understand germs and avoid spreading them to others.
Children tend to explore the world around them, and as parents know, it can often be described as crude. Whether it’s putting objects in their mouths, wiping their noses, or getting their hands dirty, germs are often ignored.
“We don’t have to be afraid of our world, or our environment at all, but right now, when there are some scary germs, we can help them be a little more vigilant by keeping their own germs to themselves,” Medical Director from Just Kids Pediatrics, Dr. Jordan Pope, said.
dr. Pope said the first step in increasing that vigilance is to help kids understand what germs are through fun, easy ways to remember.
“We kind of explain germs at home as these invisible, bad guys that we all have inside of us that sometimes make us feel unwell,” said Dr. Pope.
Parents can then help to instill proper habits and hygiene, such as covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing and washing hands. dr. Pope said it’s important to catch kids doing the right thing and provide positive reinforcement.
dr. Pope also points out that children will be children, and exposure to germs helps them develop their immune systems. During a pandemic, however, it can be difficult to strike a balance.
“That line is blurry and that line is moving,” said Dr. Pope. “That line has changed from March 2020 to now.”
dr. Pope believes the threat of COVID-19 is so severe that isolation and other precautions were necessary means of achieving a goal, but also left many immune systems untrained.
“We are definitely seeing the ramifications of this now with this kind of wave of other respiratory viruses like RSV and even flu all summer long,” said Dr. Pope. “We don’t normally see that at this time of year.”
While she doesn’t think it’s an overcorrection, Dr. Pope encourages parents to continue to strike a balance between normal exposure to germs and potentially dangerous spread.
“There is a difference between playing in soil and eating soil,” said Dr. Pope.
dr. Pope added that children are smart and naturally altruistic. When parents explain how to keep their friends and family from getting sick, she thinks kids will be willing to help.
“Lots of kind reminders and positive praise when kids do the right thing goes a long way,” said Dr. Pope.