Is social distancing becoming a bigger and bigger challenge for your children with each passing day? No doubt before the pandemic your kids were constantly going and interacting with friends either at school, extracurricular activities or just hanging out. So, it shouldn’t be too unexpected if they have some difficulty with social distancing. After all, they are having to adjust to a whole new way of life that revolves around doing almost everything from home with their siblings and parents.
If your child is struggling with social distancing, here are 5 ways to help him or her cope.
1. Establish a routine/schedule and stick to it.
As an adult you appreciate the value of a good routine or schedule. It makes life easier and you feel more productive. Your children are no different, no matter their age. Setting a home routine provides structure and reassurance during a chaotic, unsettling time. It may be tempting to let them stay up late and sleep till noon but do your best to maintain their regular schedule. This would also include making sure meals are at consistent times. For other parts of the day, provide a mix between work and play to keep them from becoming too overwhelmed and going stir-crazy.
For the best results, post your schedule where everyone can see it. This will make it easier for everyone to stay on track.
2. Make sure they are still able to socialize.
While it’s true that they may not be able to go out and see their friends and family in person, kids can still be social. Take advantage of FaceTime and Skype, along with social media. Depending on your child’s age, you may want to set up a virtual playdate or host a Netflix Party. If your child’s teacher isn’t already hosting Google Hangouts, reach out to them and suggest it. This will allow your child to stay in touch with his or her classmates.
3. Be sure they stay physically active.
It is recommended that children between the ages of 5 and 17 engage in 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This is important for both their physical and mental development. Since many parks and playgrounds are closed, you will probably need to be a bit creative. You can set up a basketball goal in the driveway, play catch in the yard, ride your bikes through the neighborhood, walk around the block, go on a scavenger hunt, or set up an obstacle course and complete it. If the weather isn’t conducive to playing outside, have an impromptu dance party or take advantage of the numerous family-friendly workouts available online.
4. Plan something to look forward to.
For kids who are used to being on the go, spending most of their time indoors with their immediate family can quickly become boring and monotonous. Why not give them something to look forward to? This could be something as simple as pizza and movie on Friday, Monday game night or baking cookies. Consider the things that interest your child and encourage them to help you plan the activity. The more involved they are, the more excited they are likely to be.
5. Have patience.
While this may be our “new normal,” social distancing isn’t a normal situation. Just like you are likely to have periods of frustration and anxiety, your kids are too. If you notice that your child appears anxious, withdrawn, frustrated, or anything in between, ask them about it. Let them know that these feelings are completely normal. If your child starts to act out, stay calm and allow them to safely communicate their feelings. Use this time to teach them relaxation techniques they can use anytime they feel anxious, such as deep breathing or guided imagery.
Even though it may not feel like it now, social distancing will be over before you know it and life will return to the way it was. Until then, use the tips above to help you and your child get through this time.
In case you missed “Arming Your Child’s Social Skills During Social Distancing” Webinar by Dr. Christopher Haley – Watch it Now! Dr. Haley gives parents great suggestions for helping children during COVID-19 and beyond.