The Novel Coronavirus - Israel Ministry of Health

Healthy Routine for Children

Publication date: 31/03/2020, 10:13 | Update date: 27/04/2020, 14:25

Parenting and coping

In order to reduce their uncertainty, we need to provide children with relevant and age-appropriate information. We need to improve children's sense of self-confidence by maintaining a routine and encouraging them to take action.

Parents are the single most important source of support for their children's coping in times of crisis. Therefore, it is essential to recognize symptoms of stress in children and to provide them with support and security.

Practical advice:

  • Embrace two binding rules that are true for all children of all ages:
    • Avoid hiding: You need to create an atmosphere of sharing at home. There are no secrets and it is okay to talk about everything and ask any question. By contrast, if the parents hold hushed conversations among themselves, the children understand that something dangerous is happening, and that they are being kept in the dark about it.
    • Avoid overwhelming: If the parents feel overwhelmed with worry or stress, they should care for themselves first. It is okay to talk about the things that worry us, but we should only do so when we are not feeling overwhelmed. Rather, we should be able to also talk about how we cope with this worry.   
  • Try to maintain your routine – Routine is a source of safety for children. Make sure to maintain regular habits, mealtimes and bedtimes. Create opportunities for the children to share their thoughts and questions with you. Play with your children, you may find things that will be enjoyable for both you and for them.  
  • Restrict your children's exposure to the news broadcasts – Refrain from over-exposing your children to the broadcasts. It is especially important for preschool and elementary school-aged children. 
  • Adjust the information to your children's level of understanding – Tell them the truth only, in a simple and reassuring manner, without delving into details. Provide the children with information and an explanation that there is a virus called Corona and that the State of Israel is taking measures to keep all of us safe. Information overload may confuse children and make them frightened and insecure. Pay heed to your children's questions and the content that occupy them. It is recommended that you help the children distinguish between facts and rumors, which would help instill a feeling of control over the situation. Teach them that not everything that you hear on the street or reading online is true, and that it is always best to ask the parents.     
  • Enhance your children's feelings of control and competence – Teach the children how they can keep themselves and their surroundings safe by maintaining hygiene, for example covering their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing with either a disposal handkerchief or with a folded elbow, washing their hands with soap before eating and after using the restroom. A few examples to activities that you may initiate: Ask the child hygiene rules, prepare a video or write a story explaining the rules of hygiene to children, prepare a poster with the rules for all the family. Thus, the child will feel significant, and a partner in the efforts to prevent infection.
  • Be mindful to your own responses to the event – Children learn how to respond to a situation by observing the adults around them. Take care of yourselves, find a way to lower your own level of stress (for example, by a breathing exercise, by sharing with your partner and by receiving support). The children will identify your level of stress and react accordingly.  

Relaxed restrictions

The relaxed restrictions released on April 19 2020 specify that the same 3 families can be together with a permanent caregiver, if they follow the rules:

  • Taking temperature
  • Practice hygiene
  • Symptoms check
  • Wearing masks, if they are required to

Family in isolation

Should your family be required to remain in isolation:

  • It is recommended that you listen to music and engage in physical activity. There are many things that you can do indoors such as dance, jump the rope, play with a soft ball, play catch with a balloon and more.
  • Keep your children engaged in enjoyable activities: Board games, painting, arts and crafts, reading books and so on.
  • Practice breathing and guided imagination exercises with your children. There are plenty of such exercises online. These exercises will help in emotional regulation.
  • Distance learning – It is possible and encouraged to log on into the Ministry of Education's "Distance Learning" website (Hebrew)

It is important that you create a daily routine for your children that is structured, regular and full of activities.

Sleep for Children Aged 3 to 6

Sleep is important for your child's health, growth and development. When children sleep well, they are calmer and happier during the day. Furthermore, sleep enhances their immune system.

At present time, children's sleep patterns may be compromised as a result of the changes to the regular routine and the worries and stress that they sense in their environment. It is important to reestablish your children's sleeping patterns. Maintaining high-quality and sufficient sleep patterns will help your children's physical and mental health. 

  • Children aged 3 to 6 require 11-13 hours of sleep per night. Younger children may still require an additional one hour nap during the day.
  • A soothing bedtime routine and a regular hour for going to sleep will help your children fall asleep easier.
  • Avoid screens before bedtime – Watching a program or playing with screens disturb the process of falling asleep.
  • Try to avoid loud or intense games, as they may make it more difficult for children to calm down and fall asleep.
  • Make sure that the room is pleasant, quiet and dark
  • Before leaving the room, make sure that your children have all that they need – a favorite teddy bear, a blanket or a water bottle. Remind them that they should stay in bed and be quiet.
  • If concerns are making it difficult for your child to relax, you may want to make time and address these concerns during daytime. Answer their questions frankly, in a simple language and in an age-appropriate manner. Think together and discuss possible solutions. Try practicing deep breaths together, for they may help them relax before bed.
  • If your children are afraid of the dark, you may leave a small light on in the room.
  • During these ages, your children's imagination starts developing, and they may begin to experiencing nightmares, which have a tendency to occur between midnight and 4 AM. These nightmares may express some of the concerns that the children experience during the day. Should your children wake up from a nightmare, sooth them and explain to them that they've had a bad dream. Kiss and hug them and help them relax and fall asleep.


Play Activity and Physical Exercise for Children Aged 3 to 6

Coping with the Coronavirus generates stress and anxiety for us and for our children. In order to help your children, and yourselves, try incorporating various play and physical exercise activities into your home routine. They will alleviate tension and create a time of mutual enjoyment.

  • At these times, when the children are home for most hours of the day, it is natural that watching television or playing computer games constitute a part of their daily routine. However, especially with regard to younger children, it is recommended that you try to limit their screen times, and to provide them with alternatives for additional activities.

During the first years of their lives, your children learn and develop mostly through play.

  • Incorporate play into the various household chores – Such as while preparing food, organizing the room or cleaning the house. For example, encourage your child to play when matching pairs of socks, thereby helping you folding the laundry. Pretend that you are in a restaurant, and let your child set the table.
  • You may want to integrate creative play – Use colors, stickers and other materials around the house for creative play, such as roles of toilet paper, empty bottles or newspapers. Make a suggestion for your child to dress up using old clothes and encourage your child to act out a familiar story or even an original story.
  • It is also recommended to integrate daily physical exercise, which is especially important for younger children. Physical activity, even one that you can do without getting out of the house, is important for alleviating stress and is a great way to pass the time. You should keep active, and use imagination and improvisation in order to make these activities fun, and an integral part of play. For example, set up an obstacle course and encourage climbing, crawling, rolling over, leaping and maintaining balance.

Home Routine for Children Aged 3 to 6

The extended indoor stay may prove to be a challenging experience for both parents and children. Maintaining a regular routine may help you brave this time of uncertainty and provide your children with a sense of security.

  • Make sure to maintain a regular routine, such as mealtimes and bedtimes, joint play activity, physical activity and chores.
  • Incorporate relaxation and rest times into your daily routine, so that your children learn to keep themselves busy.
  • Create opportunities for your children to share their thoughts and questions.
  • Incorporate joint activities such as reading a book together, joint play, listening to music, creative play and physical exercise. Find things that may also be enjoyable for you.
  • Think of way for your children to help with chores, based on their age. For example, a three year old child may help in picking up the toys, while a six year old child may set the table or take the laundry out of the washer.
  • Extended indoor stay may generate fights and confrontations between siblings. Try talking about it together, recognize challenging situations and think of solutions together.
  • Help your children learn the new routine through an illustrated schedule. Pay attention to your children and praise them when they keep the new routine without help and do as they were told without being asked to do so. Remember, this routine does not mean that you need to be strict. Check what works for you and make changes accordingly.
  • Plan a routine that will maintain your strength as a parent. The children need you now more than ever, and therefore you need to keep your batteries full. Make sure that you get high-quality and sufficient sleep, find ways to take care of yourselves on a regular basis – Find a regular time during the day to relax or for an enjoyable activity for you (talking to friends, reading a book, exercising and so on). Self-care is not a luxury. It gives you the strength to be a better parent for your children.

Healthy Nutrition for Children Aged 3 to 6

During this Coronavirus outbreak, when the children are home for many hours, it is important to continue maintaining healthy nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy nutrition for children aged 3 to 6 is very important, as it is for people of any age.  

Several rules will help them make healthy choices, both now and in later life:

  • Maintain a healthy food environment, so it will be easier for children to make healthy choices

Design the food environment in the house in such a way that healthy food choices are easily and readily available, in order to help the children in making good choices in their growing stages and to help develop their individuality in the process.

For example: Having fresh and washed fruits and vegetables within the children's reach will promote their consumption.

  • Freedom of Choice – Within a Healthy Framework

You should determine what to eat, when to eat and how to eat.

Leave your children the option to decide whether or not to eat, how much to eat and what to eat – from a variety of healthy foods that you have suggested, all the while encouraging them to choose freely according to their personal preference.

Do not demand your children to empty their plates. Trust their feelings of satiation and thereby empower them and allow them the opportunity to eat according to the needs and demands of their bodies. 

  • Serve a platter of fresh fruits and vegetables in each meal

Maintain an aesthetically pleasing serving which will encourage appetite. 


  • And what to drink – refreshing water

Unsweetened water. There's no need to provide your children with juices or sweet or sweetened beverages


  • Be a role model

When you are eating healthy and enjoying your food, your children will adopt the same habits. Be a role model for healthy eating.

  • Positive mealtime atmosphere

Mealtime is a quality time when you sit together as a family around the table in an orderly fashion and in a pleasant atmosphere. Turn off your screens and focus on eating. This is the time for discussion and sharing between the members of the household, and for strengthening the children's sense of belonging.


  • Engage your children in the cooking process

Joint preparation of meals will contribute to a pleasant atmosphere, to a familial and social experience and for expanding the variety of foods that the children get to taste and eat


  • Note the labeling on the front of the package

Foods labeled red contain high quantities of sugar, trans-fat or sodium, ingredients which can be harmful to your health in large quantities.


  • Bring home healthy foods

What you buy is what you eat.

Be sure to buy whole wheat, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Avoid buying sweet and savory snacks or sweetened beverages of any kind.  

Development for Children Aged 3 to 6

Your child continues to grow and develop. It is important to remember that each child has his or her own pace.

Ages 3 to 4

During this age range, children develop play skills with other children: Joining other children's play, involving others in their own play activity, joining "make believe" games, taking upon themselves a scripted and structured role within the game. They are capable of playing with their peers and negotiate with them on their role in the game, prefer familiar activities or games, show interest in new ones. These play activities not only improve their social skills but also their motor skills, the comprehension and their language skills.   

Examples of age-appropriate landmarks:

  • Standing on one foot
  • Jumping from a step
  • Capacity for putting on shoes and dressing but need for help in buttoning and lacing
  • Holding writing utensils and copying the shape of a circle
  • Counting to 3
  • Coherent speech

Ages 5 to 6

During this age range, children continue growing and amassing new capacities.

They form long and complex sentences, express complex ideas, engage other children and adults in conversation, expand their gross and fine motor skills and their play skills, as well as elaborate upon the nature of their play.

Examples of age-appropriate landmarks:

  • Jumping on one foot for 2-3 times in a row
  • Eating with spoon and fork
  • Drawing and playing
  • Respond to these questions: What's your name, how old are you, where do you live

Suggestions for activities with the children, specifically suitable for this time and recommended for their development:

  • Active reading of books, while engaging the children in conversation, enacting the story and more
  • Playing with colorful ribbons, hoops, soap bubbles and other enjoyable playthings
  • Ball play: Catching, throwing and hitting balls of different sizes
  • Setting up an obstacle course with such common household items as cardboard boxes, bins and chairs

If you think that your child displays significant difficulty in motor, social and lingual skills compared to other children, you should share your concerns with the Tipat Halav nurse or the pediatrician.  

Safety for Children Aged 3 to 6

Many perceive home as the most protective and safe environment for children. However, each year thousands of children are intentionally injured at home. Now that the children are home for an extended period of time, we need to take extra precautions to prevent this phenomenon.

The single most important thing is adult supervision. Children under 6 lack the developmental capacity to be aware of dangers, or to protect children younger than they are from harm. 

The following ideas will allow for supervision and a for a safe environment:

  • Allow for play in a designated area in the adult's line of sight
  • Inspect the windows and all other openings, remove climbable objects from the window area, prevent falling by installing bars or any other security barriers
  • Do not leave children unattended in the kitchen, next to stove, burners and containers of hot foods, to prevent burns and other injures
  • Lock cabinets containing sharp objects, cleaning supplies and medications

A safe environment can prevent suffocation, drowning, falls and other injuries.

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