When was the last time your child had a play date? How long has it been since he has been able to swing past other kids on the monkey bars, give a high five, or get a hug? During the COVID19 pandemic, these little things we used to take for granted disappeared seemingly overnight. Unlike a move, where kids get to say “goodbye” to their friends, the urgency of the situation caused many social outlets to close overnight. Child behavior psychologists in Littleton know just how important social connection is, especially for our kids. Read on to find out some great tips to cope and maintain those connections while staying socially distant and healthy!
Everyone seems to be making good use of modern technology to connect, but this is typically easier for older children and teens. Younger children, and many children on the autism spectrum, struggle to engage in the video calls. This is normal! Videos take the life, interaction, and a good deal of body language out of communications, even with one’s best friend or family members. Here are some tips to make your telehealth visit more effective:
- Schedule a time and stick to it. Anticipating the fun of the “visit” is part of any playdate!
- Make sure lighting is bright—sunlight works best.
- Help kids connect by planning a shared activity like a shared video game or favorite show to watch.
- “Show and tell” is fun for younger kids. Completed puzzles, drawings, or LEGO constructions are perfect for showing off.
- Keep it short. When attention spans fade, frustration builds.
- Always monitor your child’s safety while using internet technology.
Plan for the Future
The tips above are great, but many kids (and, let’s admit, many adults!) are tired of video conferencing. Why not start a plan for the future? Help your child plan an exciting summer BBQ, fall birthday party, or anything else they can look forward to? This is a perfect way for older children and teens to stay occupied and hopeful. For anxious children who may worry about having to attend school or interact with friends again, this can be a good time to plan some safe, fun activities. If your child is having problems sleeping, decides he or she never wants to return to school, or is showing signs of depression, don’t hesitate to contact your favorite children’s play therapist in Littleton! We can provide parent interventions, telehealth, and will transition smoothly to in-person sessions when it is safe.
Make it Special
Many families have special routines or treats for when a child is ill—a forbidden soda, exotic tropical fruit pops, special homemade soup. When the child thinks back later in life, these special treats don’t offset unhappiness, but they do provide the rainbow during the rainstorm. What special things do you have to help your child maintain social skills during these times? Does your teen meet her BFF for coffee every week? Surprise them both and have a beverage delivered for her and her friend during chat time! Does your little one love to surprise his friends with gifts? Order one for each and unbox together over video. Five years from now, you want your child to look back and say “remember when we were quarantined and did this? It was so much fun!”
On a final note, keep in mind that as much as you and your child can try to make this situation better, it is hard. Don’t pretend it isn’t—let your child know that you are struggling sometimes, school friends are struggling, even adults are having a hard time. Then, remind them that we can get through this together!