How to support your kids this summer
After more than a year of dealing with restrictions related to COVID-19, life is finally getting back to normal—or rather a “new” normal—for most of us. And it’s just in time for summer. While that’s great news, it leaves some parents with questions about whether they need to take any steps to keep their kids safe and healthy this summer. Here are answers to questions many parents are asking.
Q: Are there things I still need to do to keep my kids safe from COVID-19?
A: Getting your children vaccinated if they’re eligible is one of the most important things you can do to keep your kids safe and healthy. Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get a vaccine. If you have concerns about the vaccine, give your children’s health care providers a call. Talk with them about whether or not your kids should get COVID-19 vaccines.
Q: Is it really safe for kids to do normal, everyday things again, like play with their friends or go to a birthday party?
A: In many cases, yes! The mask mandate and most restrictions have been lifted in Massachusetts for those who are fully vaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated are still advised to wear masks indoors and in certain situations outdoors, such as when they attend gatherings with other unvaccinated people or go to crowded outdoor events.
Q: My kids missed wellness visits during the pandemic because I was concerned about safety. It is okay to wait until their next yearly visit?
A: Experts urge parents to make appointments with their kids’ providers to get caught up on any missed wellness visits as soon as possible. This is especially important with the state’s reopening. During these visits, providers give your kids childhood shots to prevent serious diseases, like measles and whooping cough. They also track your kids’ growth and development. Your children’s providers are an important resource for you. Talk with them about any concerns you have about your kids, including how the pandemic has affected their mental health, learning and social development. They can help you get your kids any added support they may need.
Q: Can my kids go to camp this summer?
A: Yes, kids can attend day or overnight camps this summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its camp-related safety guidelines. If your child and other campers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, they can play sports, swim, do arts and crafts and participate in other camp activities without wearing masks or social distancing. Camps where not all kids are fully vaccinated will also open this year. Kids who haven’t been vaccinated will have to wear masks indoors and follow other safety precautions, such as physical distancing, avoiding indoor activities in crowded or poorly ventilated areas, etc.
Q: The pandemic was stressful for all of us. How can I tell if my kids are still struggling? If they are, how can I help them cope?
A: Kids of all ages were affected by the pandemic. Look for symptoms in your kids. Signs that they may be feeling stress include:
• Excessive worry, sadness or crying
• Unhealthy habits, such as poor eating and sleeping habits
• Difficulty concentrating
• Avoiding school or poor school performance
The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to help your kids feel better. Try some of these tips:
• Let kids know that it’s okay to feel stress or anxiety
• Reassure your kids that they are safe
• Be a role model. Show what you’re doing to take care of yourself. That may include taking breaks, eating well, and getting enough sleep and exercise.
• Create routines. Predictability gives kids a sense of stability and security.
• Spend time with your kids
Q: It’s difficult for me to figure out whether or not my teenage children are feeling added stress because of the pandemic. What should I do?
A: Teens may be feeling worried, bored or frustrated with all the difficulties they have experienced over the past year. The truth is COVD-19 was and is frightening. Helping your teens develop strategies to manage their stress is something that will help them now and throughout their lives. Encourage your teen to:
• Learn the facts about COVID-19. Explain that misinformation or rumors can be a source of stress.
• Find ways to relax. Taking deep breaths and meditating may help. But so can doing their favorite activities. Gaming, reading or exercising may help your teens relax.
• Talk about their feelings with you or someone else they trust
• Make a schedule that includes things they need to get done, as well as time to relax and connect with their friends
If you think your teens need professional help, talk with their health care providers.
Q: My child struggled with learning remotely. Is there anything I can do to make sure my child gets the right support?
A: Many parents worry about how the pandemic is affecting their children’s education. And some experts believe the problem is worse for children of color. Massachusetts is spending millions of dollars across the state on summer school and recreation programs to help make up for learning losses. You can advocate for your children to make sure they get the support they need. Check with their schools. Reach out to their teachers. Ask about what resources are available.
Tufts Health Plan is one of the few health plans in Massachusetts to offer coverage across people’s life span regardless of age or circumstance. This coverage includes Medicaid/subsidized, commercial and Medicare health plans. To learn more, visit TuftsHealthPlan.com.
Tufts Health Plan is proud to celebrate Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery in the United States. Diversity, equity and inclusion have been part of the fabric of our organization for years. We created a dedicated business diversity team in 2015 to promote these principles in the workplace and beyond. Since then, these principles have shaped our mission and the work we do for our employees, members and communities. On Juneteenth, we stand with those who are committed to fostering greater diversity, equity and inclusion throughout Massachusetts.