Children And Play, During A Pandemic


Summer is here. The ninety degrees didn't tip it off. It also means school is out and parents are looking for fun things to do to keep those kiddos entertained, and if you're like me, I'm guessing you're asking some of these same questions. How do you make summer vacation fund in the middle of pandemic? Everything from trips to playgrounds team sports play dates all kind of underlined by this theme of what's safe, and what's not and I'm sure you've got your own questions about how to handle summer vacation with your kids. We're GONNA bring you. Great guests to help answer those so go ahead and jump on board. One, eight, hundred, four, two, three, eight, two, five, five. That's one eight hundred four to three talk. Joining us now is Dr Rick Molly. He's a senior physician in pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children's hospital. And also a professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School Dr Mollie Welcome, Radio Boston? Thank you for having me? And also with us is Peter Gray. He's a research professor of psychology at Boston College author of free to learn and founder of let grow a nonprofit. That promotes child lead. Play Peter Welcome back to you as well. Very happy to be here. So Dr Mollie. I want to start with you and ask you kind of where kids fit into this pandemic. If we go back to. When we first started learning about corona virus, there was some concern that they'd be so called super spreaders. Have we learned any more about the role? Kids play in spreading Kurna virus. I think we have although there's still a lot to learn at the outset of the pandemic. Exactly as you said, most people really thought this was going to follow the same pattern as other common respiratory viruses like a flu where children are really unfortunately, the main vectors of transmission, and so a lot of people were worried. That was going to be the case, but we had read reports from China that really indicated that children were somewhat wore likely to resist the negative consequences of disinfection and not get quite as sick, so that was the first puzzle. The second puzzle was that we found. Found out from other countries like Iceland and and Israel and other countries across the world that not only were children less likely to get sick. They were also less likely to even catch the virus in their nose, and therefore less likely to spread it now it. It isn't to say that they can't get sick from the virus. We certainly have unfortunately many examples of that, but they do seem to be more resistant to getting sick, and they also seem to be probably more resistant to serving as ping pong players to spread the virus across their families or other members of the community. It's really interesting. I've got a son who will be five this summer and so I can tell you firsthand wearing masks washing your hands. It all looks great on paper. That can be a real challenge. Actually on the ground kind of any general advice for parents in terms of how to keep your kids safe as we're starting to enter the summer months. It's very interesting and important question. You're asking I. Think we all recognize that? Our dream of running around in a park on the beach with our kids not involve them wearing masks, and and stings exceeded away from from other children or other. People even you know and are friendly with. But I do think that we have to take a certain amount of precautions, because even though children are less likely to get sick and less likely to transmit probably bay still can get sick and make still probably spread the virus, and therefore the recommendations we make is to if the child is old enough like your children old enough to understand what we're trying. To. Explain to them that you can have fun. You can be outside. In fact, we want you to be outside, but we want you to follow a few rules that did not exist until six months ago and those are the rules of staying a little bit away from people who are not directly in your family unit, or in your social bubble, and also, when and if the child is willing to wear a mask so that they do not infect others and I think that's a very empowering statement. You can make to a child to say that the reason they're wearing masks is to make sure that they're keeping all the other people safe as well. It's a great way to look at. It Peter I want to bring you in here and and we are going to. The solicitor calls and questions as well one, eight, hundred, four, two, three, eight, two, five five. If you want to join the conversation. Peter I mentioned in your intro you. You've spent your career researching play. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of play in a child's development? And what have you seen in the last few months during the pandemic? Play as crucial to children's development and much of my research shows that over the last few decades our children have been very play deprived We put the spent so much time in school so much time at homework after school so much time in adult directed activities which are not fully play play as activity that children develop themselves. Children take control of themselves. Where children learn to be independent and solve their own problems, so I've done a lot of research that shows. that as we as we deprived children, more and more of free play. We get more anxious. More depressed, less resilient children we have. Huge increases in childhood suicide over the last several decades, and the which of course is just the tip of the iceberg And what my research suggests, it's because children are so often in stressful competitive kinds of activities such as school. And have so little time to adjust really be children. To play. So what's interesting right now? Is, all these things that have kept children's so busy have been shut off. And what the consequences of that well the LET Grillo? Nonprofit which have apart of. has recently completed. A major survey of families across the country surveyed eight hundred families pretty well balanced for socio-economic group geographic. Placement and so on these are families that have children between the ages of eight and thirteen, and we asked a lot of questions about how. The parents are coping the questions to the directed to the parents and questions directed to the target child within the family. Let me just give you a little bit of the data. The data were surprising even to me. And I think they will be even more surprising to others, so one of the. Was to the children. Are you more calm now or less calm? Than you were when you were before the before the school closures forty nine. Said more calm. Twenty five percent said less calm and the rest said about the same the parents, the same question, forty three percent said they are now less stressed. Twenty nine percent said more stress. The others said no difference now. Here's something that you know you introduce this by saying. Keep kids entertained. The interesting thing that parents are learning is. They don't have to entertain their cats. Kids are pretty darn good at finding ways to entertain themselves. It took a while some cases up. They were bored. Boredom is a good thing. They figured out what to do, so we got responses from the kids saying things like. You know I've owned a guitar for two years and I've never had time to learn to play it. It I have learned to play the guitar and you watch on Youtube played the cutter. We've heard from many kids who are riding bicycles for the first time a match that we were growing a generation of kids who aren't learning to ride bicycles because they're kept so busy, also because we're so afraid, they'll get hurt out there in the bicycle well, the traffic slow down for a while. Kids didn't have much else to do. This is a safe way to get out and play so. I've heard from parents. I can't buy a bicycle. There's a run on bicycles you know so. There's an interesting phenomenon here I don't want to say it is interesting I don't know obviously. Obviously and obviously there are family suffering. Obviously, we probably didn't hear from the families that. You know that you just hate one within the family. You don't want to be stuck at home with their. We probably heard from the families who are coping a little better than some of the other families, but what's really interesting is these these parents are saying I am impressed by my children. They are. They are more responsible. They're taking more control themselves. Many of them are doing homework. They're asked how it is interesting. Housework that I didn't think they were capable of doing. It is interesting that A lot of what you're talking about obviously sounds great, but there is a privilege component here to right not everybody can go out and buy a bike or has space in a backyard for kids to play or. You know maybe parents who are frontline workers who are still having to go into the office and they're trying to figure out childcare situations. How? How are you thinking about that as you're processing the data? I think that's a very very good point, and it's it's It's hard to know but what I can tell you. Is that the problem that existed before this pandemic? Is across social class. It's across race. Children have been suffering because of deprivation of play. and. Primary reasons for the deprivation of play is not having time to do it, and because we're living in a world where people feel that, it's unsafe for children to go outdoors. We've exaggerated the dangers and this is across social class. There was a time a couple of decades ago when this was more common in the. so-called more privileged classes, they were more overprotective of their children than within then and then people who are economically less less-privileged. Now. This is across social class. Partly because people are afraid, they'll be arrested if they'd send their children out to play. A buzzer can of worms. We could get into another time I do want to make sure we get some calls in here, so let's Let's go to the phones seibu in Sudbury. is on the line welcome to Radio Boston Seibu. Thanks for having me my question in this context kind of maybe. And and I'm hearing all the benefits and I think I agree with with some of those things that that are intrinsically happening with trying to expand. Ways that children are staying busy My comment would be you know I'm very personable person and I like to think my son is four and a half is also developing to be the same way. How do you start to explain some more of the uncertainty around just running into folks say in public areas where you are trying to get outside That's kind of my first question, and my second question is in terms of. How do you keep your so more? The the flip side of that your private circle? How do you sort of ensure that folks are taking it seriously? You know the virus seriously and being able to interact with them. both indoors and outdoors right because some are summer will come to an. Thank, you yeah, that's a great question documentary. Let me bring you in on this. Because I think socialization obviously has a number of benefits. But how do you balance that with the health concerns? Yeah it's it's a challenge. We've all been facing I think it. It's helpful to remember that even know. We can't put a number to the risk that is associated with for example crossing somebody in the hallway, or or on the elevator, or even in a park, just running into somebody in sort of even bumping into them, and then moving away. It just doesn't seem likely that that represents a huge risk of transmission, and therefore when one tries to explain to children depending on their age, of course, what should or should not be done I think it can be done in a way where you're trying to explain to the child that it's important to reduce those interactions to limit that type of. You know close contact if you will with somebody that is not part of their family or their social bubble, but without giving them this fear. This thing Zaidi that all of a sudden they've entered some sort of radioactive zone when they're in in the face of someone that they don't know I think that really can help quite a bit to reduce the anxiety in frustration that people might have. I do think it's absolutely critically important that we take advantage of good weather that we take ring kids outside that we we re engage in the type of activities that make our kids healthier and happier. Without creating the sense that just because you're temporarily in very briefly closer to someone. Then maybe you and I would like for a child that that is going to represent a significant risk. Yeah I'll go back to the phones at one, eight, hundred, four, two, three, eight, two, five, five Danny in Cambridge. You're up next. Welcome to the show, Danny. What's on your mind? Thank you so much for taking my call I'm a question for your gas. I have a twenty seven month old and forget about the fact that I can't get this kid to put on a mask to save my life. He hates when I wear my mask. It really bothers him and my question. Speak of I. Language I got an eighteen gets during the say cries as soon as it goes on. Each us, it's awful and you know. daycares are opening back up. Our daycare centers opening back up at the end of July, and I think the thing that concerns me is I know that developmentally small children are really reliant on facial expressions. And what scares me, you know. What is this going to affect our children developmentally when they go back to daycare? And you know their teachers all have face masks on you know. How are they going to be able to read their expression to connect with them to form those bonds and those connections that will affect them for the rest of their life. Is this something that I mean you know? Is this something that we really need to be concerned about and if so? How do we mitigate that? How do we rectify that at home? Great Question Danny I'll throw that up to either you Rick Molly Peter Greg whoever wants to have thought to that which which bay surprise some people. You can see facial expressions on zoom or on the computer. So one possibility is with little kids. Let them interact with their friends and other people over the computer. At least not, it's not perfect it doesn't. It doesn't take the place of physical hugs. And jostling all of that, but at least it's If you're concerned about losing the opportunity to respond to physical expressions, you know of course during this time we've all been on Zuma heck of a lot more than we ever were before and I think what everybody's finding is. It those computer of when you're when you're looking at one another. It's It's certainly better than being on the telephone. It's It's you're you're interacting. With go back to the phones. Here revealed in Cambridge up next Ravizza. What's on your mind? Hi Thank you for taking my Cole. I WANNA ask Dr Mollie. He mentioned You mentioned a social bubble, and I was wondering. How many families do you recommend to connect together to form that bubble? It's a great question. Dr Mollie. What do you say? You know I think like anything. It's a matter of knowing your. Your friends and the members of your bubble in other words. If you sent to me, I have to families that I'm very close to, and they have kids and we have all pledged. To really only see one another and nobody else. And that could amount of age. Have a couple of kids. You have a couple of kids that can amount to like a pretty big group of people but as long as everybody is respectful of that contract. To the extent possible, then I think that's not an unsafe. Situation what you don't want is a situation. Where for example, your your friends are part of six different social bubbles sort of jumping around from one group to another in another because then unfortunately. The whole contract is basically void as far as I'm concerned and so more than the number of families that you're willing to include. I would consider it using your own judgment of how much risk you're willing to take for yourself and for your families, for example, restaurants are now. Open indoors outdoors. personally I think it's very rational to try to decide for yourself whether you feel more comfortable with people who are going to be for example, eating outdoors at the restaurant rather than going inside, and that might be a way to judge whether people in your bubble are respecting that same degree of risk that you're taking on for your own family and that might help you decide. Go ahead go ahead. I was GONNA I was GonNa tag another on. We don't have time for any more calls. But the Karen and Carlisle was gonNA. Ask about her fifteen year old, and whether they should be babysitting small kids. I'd imagine your advice is something. Similar lines understand the family's. You'd be working with how they're approaching the situation. Yes I think you're absolutely right. It's it's. It's good to get that information. These days fortunately, it will not be viewed as being intrusive to ask people how they are managing the pandemic. Actually, it's a very interesting conversation I think you know people learn from one another that way what works what doesn't what makes them feel comfortable and I think if somebody wants to have a job such as babysitting, it would be very important to understand what the other family is doing. Let's talk to Rick Molly senior physician in Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children's Hospital and a professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School Dr Mollie. Thanks so much for the time. My pleasure. And, also with US Peter. Gray reports professors psychology at Boston College. Author of free to learn and founder of let grow a nonprofit that promotes child lead pay a play Peter. Thanks so much for your time to. Thank you for having me on.

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