Living through a pandemic is reshaping our children’s friendships in unexpected ways. Kids are being forced to stay apart from their friends and peer groups because of social distancing requirements and precautionary measures. This is causing them to feel alone, isolated, and bored. In fact, life in lockdown has been all the more challenging for kids than it has been for us adults, as their normal lives have been completely disrupted.
Not only are they dealing with the uncertainty of the upcoming school year, but they may also be feeling lonely, anxious and may even be struggling with different kinds of fears. Adding to this, the pandemic has also affected children’s friendships. That’s a lot of weight for them to be carrying on their fragile little shoulders.
Friendships help forge social skills like negotiation, cooperation, and conflict resolution. They teach kids how to be supportive and show empathy. They also stimulate independent thinking and open kids up to new ideas.
Why does it matter?
Friendship is an essential part of your child’s social and emotional development. There is no one better than another child to engage in free, imaginative play with. No one understands what it’s like to be a child as much as another child. And there is no one better to play games with, chat about common interests, and share feelings with than a good friend.
Friendships and peer group bonding is very important developmental milestone that your child needs to cross in order to develop important social skills. This is why you as parents need to understand how your child’s deprivation of friendship can lead to different mental health and behavioral problems. Let us understand more about how the pandemic has affected your child’s friendships.
How does not interacting with people in real life affect your child’s social and people’s skills?
While the pandemic has surely made us all realize the importance of human touch and interaction, children have felt its absence even more. All their possible sources of human interaction like their school, hobby classes, play areas have been closed making them feel lonely and disconnected.
Another aspect that affects children’s mental health is that during this pandemic, children and their families have been exposed to direct or indirect factors that could pose stress and emotional disturbance. Several weeks of homestay has forced parents to work from home. Moreover, families have lost their loved ones, their financial independence and security, and their ability to function healthily.
This disease is instilling fear in children because children are worried about not only getting infected but also having their parents staying at home and not leaving for work.
Lack of human touch has also resulted in a lack of understanding of non-verbal cues and gestures in children. Non-verbal communication and body language unknowingly become a huge part of a child’s daily life.
These non-verbal gestures like holding hands, smiling, patting on the backs, etc help in comforting children. They also help children learn skills like empathy and healthy communication.
What can you as a parent do?
Video Activity Dates:
Conducting virtual activities with your kid and their friends can help your child restore the connection with their friends that they were missing out on before. Activities like crafting or cooking call for them to interact with one another making the video chat even more fun.
Go Old-Fashioned, and send things over:
Parents often complain that the new generation doesn’t know how things used to be in the olden times. Now is the time to bring a little novelty and turn the clock back to the golden era and perhaps teach your child how to send a letter to their friends. Your child can also create new things with their friends online and send arts and crafts or homemade care packages through the mail.
Group courses and engaging activities:
Children love to do activities with their friends. Engaging kids and their friends together in any group activity virtually can stimulate their creativity and make them feel closer to their friends giving them a chance to make stronger bonds.
Be there for your child:
One of the most fundamental things you can do for your child is to be there for them. Being a good listener, giving them undivided attention for some time, and actively participating in activities of their choice.
Online Enrichment Classes:
Many online educational platforms have emerged these days. Invest your time in choosing a program wisely. Choose a program that enriches your child’s social, emotional, and people skills. By doing so you will do a great favor on your child’s future and their personality.
Practice gratitude with your children:
After all that the whole world has been through reiterating the importance of gratitude and teaching your child to be grateful and thankful for whatever you have can help your child and make them feel secured and safe. This will also help them make new connections and cherish relationships and be grateful for their friendships.