Coronavirus Isolation Tip 1: Try (Virtual) Teamwork!
Being a part of team can help children feel less alone. Parents should try to create new ways for children to form teams to do an activity they can do at the same time as their friends while on lockdown at home. That might be a puzzle-of-the-week team, for example, or perhaps a book club. This type of teamwork builds self-confidence, friendships, social skills, and a sense of belonging or community.
Parents can conduct guided activities to help kids develop and enhance social connections with their team or community group during this time of social distancing. Make sure the activities you choose have key takeaways or learning objectives to ensure that the children and their teams get the maximum social-emotional benefits.
Coronavirus Isolation Tip 2: Daily Check-Ins
Outside of digital communication, children and families can start their day by journaling or writing down what they like about the specific people they miss. Other possible projects include sending a handwritten note to friends, making plans for activities to do once the restrictions are lifted, having daily check-ins with family members on feelings of loneliness and missing friends, and working with family members to create a memory book.
Children and teens deal with quarantine and massive changes in their lives in different ways. This makes it vital for parents or caregivers to have daily check-ins where we ask them about their day and their needs. Even if kids do not want to talk about these issues, check-ins help kids remember that there is someone who cares enough to check in with them and see how they are doing.
Coronavirus Isolation Tip 3: Validate Your Child’s Feelings
Validating a child’s feelings can go a long way toward combatting feelings of isolation and loneliness. It is hard for kids to be separated from their classmates Children are hearing a lot about the stress of adults under quarantine, and it can be meaningful to hear that their stresses are also significant. A simple comment like, ‘I know this must be so hard for you,’ or, ‘It’s not fair that you can’t see your friends,’ can help children feel like their parents understand why they are struggling right now.”
Coronavirus Isolation Tip 4: Add an Activity
It hard for children to feel the same sense of connection in Zoom meetings as they would if they were meeting a friend in real life. Adding an activity, such as completing a craft together or baking a simple recipe with help from a parent, can help make virtual playtime feel more ‘real. You might also explore other non-screen ways to keep kids in touch, such as finding a pen pal for exchanging letters and drawings.
Helping them to stay socially and emotionally connected to their friends.
Setting up playdates with their friend to play with toys and eat snacks.
If they have Netflix hangouts they could watch a film together or stay connected with friends through interactive video games.
More Social Activities You Can Do Online
Parents need to actively facilitate safe socialisation for their children. Remember, much of your child’s time at school is about having fun and socialising with friends. Ease their longing to play with their friends via the phone and technology tools that allow socialisation from afar, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or FaceTime.”
Some suggestions for online fun:
- Schedule FaceTime dinner parties with friends and family
- Host a virtual show-and-tell or talent show
- Take virtual field trips to museums or foreign countries
- Create fun themed dress-up days
- Have a story time hour by phone
Activities suitable for online play include block building, Legos, colouring or arts and crafts, baking cookies, and Minecraft.
Coronavirus Isolation Tip 5: Get Kids to Talk!
We are weeks into a quarantine and kids and families are feeling isolated and some even feel sad and depressed. Parents can help their children combat feelings of loneliness. But first, they have to open the door to communication about how loneliness feels.
Developmentally, children can think only from their own perspectives and may get lost in their emotions. When children learn to identify what they are feeling, parents can then help them process those feelings so they feel validated. That validation leads children to feel in control and capable of managing their emotions. It is also important for children to know that loneliness is a normal feeling right now during quarantine and they can do things to feel less lonely.
Coronavirus Isolation Tip 6: Foster Independence
Helping children come up with their own ways of combatting loneliness can give them confidence and skills that make them feel like they can manage the coronavirus isolation on their own. Ask them what is making them feel lonely and what they think they could do to make it better. Help them write a list that they can tape up on their wall when they need ideas. Teach them about ways they can improve their mental health, including walking in nature, gratitude journaling, doing breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation.
Even More Online Social Activities
“During quarantine, it is especially important to stay active and mentally engaged mentally, keep a routine, work on projects every day, connect virtually, and find comfort. Being idle and watching Netflix, on the other hand, will only feed loneliness, so create a routine and be active with purposeful activities.
There are so many ways to connect with others and when kids get stuck, parents can always help kids come up with new ideas.
The following ideas for social activities kids can manage in spite of the coronavirus lockdown:
- Have parents work together to help kids play an online or board game, together
- Do crafts with a friend via Zoom
- Have a remote playdate with a classmate
- Take a virtual group exercise class
- Walk the dog for a short distance
- Have a family cooking session
- Call cousins or grandparents on the phone
- Read to or do a craft with a younger sibling
- Join a virtual youth group.
Maintaining Connections Reduces Loneliness, Offers an Anchor
Kids can also write letters to friends and family, or take turns dropping off surprises or care packages to friends. Focused attention in the context of one-on-one time with parents can also be helpful in increasing a child’s sense of connectedness.
Helping children achieve that sense of connectedness, must be the central goal right now, as parents of children. Because none of us know when the pandemic will end or how long our children will need to remain isolated from their friends. Not knowing when this will end is, in fact, a key part of what makes coronavirus isolation so difficult for all of us. Rather than focus on what we cannot do or know, we must do the best we can to help our children connect to their peers for the duration.
It’s crucial to their development. And their mental health.