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Colleges Can Be Covid-19 Hotspots. Here’s How to Talk to Your Kid About Safety.

Despite parents’ efforts to prepare their children and the extensive safety protocols set up by colleges and universities, the novel coronavirus has infiltrated campuses nationwide, turning many into covid-19 hot spots in just a matter of weeks. With cases continuing to rise, forcing switches to online-only classes and strict dorm lockdowns, parents have found themselves trying to figure out how to communicate their concerns from afar.

Discussions about safety, especially during a pandemic, need to be ongoing, said Ludmila De Faria, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida who specializes in college mental health. She and other experts offered tips for finding the right balance when discussing how your kids can stay safe from the virus.

Don’t interrogate

“If [parents] have a checklist that says, ‘Are you wearing your mask? Are you gathering with fewer than six people? Are you staying six feet apart?,’ I mean, that will get old very, very quickly,” said Karen Coburn, a former assistant vice chancellor and author of “Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years.” She added, “You can’t expect to have an open relationship if you interrogate your child rather than having a conversation.”

De Faria recommended framing your questions to focus on what people around your child are doing. For example, ask whether your child’s friends are being safe or whether anyone on campus is getting sick.

You should also work on managing your own stress, said Mercedes Samudio, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in parenting and families.

Don’t lecture

This is not the time to lecture your college-age child about safety or scold them when they stray from the guidelines, experts say.

Instead, aim for the “Goldilocks Zone,” said Gloria DeGaetano, founder and chief executive of the Parent Coaching Institute, which has its headquarters in Bellingham, Wash.

“It’s not overly permissive, and it isn’t overly controlling,” DeGaetano said. In this zone, you are able to maintain your authority but still be gentle, caring and supportive.

Stick to the facts

Coburn recommended relying on facts when addressing behavior you feel could be unsafe — for instance, going to a party indoors.

“You can sort of negotiate a place where you will ensure the most sort of safe experience” that avoids “inhibiting the kid from doing things that are age-appropriate,” De Faria said.

Listen to your kid

Give your child a chance to explain how they plan on handling any situations, Samudio said.

“If parents continuously overbear on their child or are really insulting, then this college-age kid is going to just decide they don’t want to talk to you anymore and then you lose all contact and all ability to know how they’re doing,” she said. “They could easily just hang up the phone and do whatever they want.”

Excerpted from “Colleges can be covid-19 hotspots. Here’s how to talk to your kid about safety.” in The Washington Post. Read the full article for more details on each of the recommendations.

Source: The Washington Post | Colleges can be covid-19 hotspots. Here’s how to talk to your kid about safety., https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/parents-college-students-covid/2020/10/19/c8c6b790-0eeb-11eb-b1e8-16b59b92b36d_story.html | © 1996-2020 The Washington Post

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