In recent weeks, dealing with the coronavirus has primarily meant social distancing. Now, however, in parts of the world it is gradually possible to meet with friends and other families again. Yet for many, life is still far from normal. That is particularly true for young children with no siblings, who currently need a lot of attention from their parents. “We know from research that small children are very social beings and need contact with their peers, whether it is discovering and learning something with another child or sorting out conflicts together,” says Sabine Andresen, vice-president of the German Child Protection Association. Child and youth psychotherapist Daniela Lempertz therefore advises parents to create space for their children. In concrete terms, this means going out with the child twice a day if possible. “Mindfulness exercises are reassuring for children and parents. You can take three conscious breaths together outside and see who can exhale the longest. Or you can try to push a cloud as you exhale,” she says. Another tip from Lempertz: “Go to a park to do some yoga with a friend and their child. Even for the little ones there are simple positions they can imitate.” There are also outdoor games that allow children to play together at a distance, such as hide-and-seek, throwing a ball or skipping. What we know so far about Covid-19 and children For those who live in houses with gardens, children in neighbouring homes can watch each other play. Or they can talk to each other from a window. Lempertz recommends making a tin can phone. Though parents often use video calls in the hope of keeping in touch with other children and relatives, video chats can disturb small children. “Communication media work reasonably well for children aged four or five, but they don’t replace personal contact,” says Andresen. “Video calls are more likely to cause confusion in even younger children,” she says, as the little ones won’t understand why they can’t go to grandma’s house. Despite many creative ideas to survive the situation, it still remains a burden for families. “When a parent swings back and forth between attention and tension, the little ones feel it,” says Lempertz. They feel more than they can express in words and often do not understand what is happening around them. This can have consequences: warning signs that something is worrying the child can be seen in a change in behaviour. “There are children who fall silent even though they can already speak, and those who suddenly have nightmares or wake up frequently in the night. Others are suddenly more affectionate, more often weepy or angry,” she says. Positive experiences can help in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. “With the children and also for yourself, you should look every day to see what works and what does not work,” Lempertz advises. It could be helpful to keep a kind of diary with the child every day, in which they can write, paint or draw, she adds.