Staying at home and distance learning once seemed like it would be a kind of vacation for our kids, but this prolonged situation has brought about a lot of loneliness. This feeling is a common concern for many parents these days, with many trying to learn how to deal with their children’s feelings of isolation during distance learning so that they can cope without their usual social and extracurricular outlets.
Nowadays, it can be difficult to find ways to help your child feel connected with others. Thankfully, there are six things that parents can do to help them feel less isolated while we continue online learning and social distancing.
Our children must have witnessed firsthand the stress that adults experienced during this pandemic. They may feel their loneliness isn’t as significant as ours, especially if we don’t take the time to acknowledge them. We need to invite our kids to talk about their feelings, or they may start the habit of isolating themselves when they feel bad.
Make sure to not dismiss their emotions, and to acknowledge their situation. A simple comment like “that sounds sad, it must be hard for you,” or “I’m sorry you can’t see your friends, you must miss them,” will make them feel heard and seen — and encourage them to open up to you when they feel lonely.
Parents should also keep an eye on their feelings and struggles. Sometimes, negative emotions can overflow and your child may become affected. This may make them hesitant to approach you for help or add to their worries. So, it’s important to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Having a sound mind will make you better equipped to help your child with their emotional needs.
Try to find a way for your kid to safely socialize. As every child is different, this could be through Zoom, through physically distanced in-person meetings, or another way they may prefer.
If they want to socialize online, try to help them feel like they’re meeting their friend in real life. You could suggest activities like baking or crafts to make it more collaborative and fun for them. You could also show games that they could do in a group, such as Skribblio. Try to explore these options with them and see which ones they enjoy.
If they want to meet their friends in person, you could coordinate with their family to make the necessary precautions. You could have outdoor picnics, games, and you can even have your kids learn a skill together while outside! Roller skating and biking are two activities they could try out, while still maintaining their distance.
Your family may now be spending an unprecedented amount of time together, and you can take this opportunity to take up new activities. Try finding a show that the whole family can enjoy together, and come up with wild theories about the plot as you go. Have game nights and alternate between video and board games (your kid might love that you’re trying out their favorite games!). If your family is more outdoorsy, try walking outside together after school. The important thing is to find something that appeals to everyone’s interests, and that they can have fun with you.
In the morning, ask them about their plans, what their classes look like, and if there’s anything they need from you. At night, ask them how school went, if there was anything difficult that happened, and what they might be feeling about their day. These simple check-ins help provide some structure, and also give them a chance to talk more about themselves. It can be helpful for kids who struggle with independence and lack of supervision, or maybe need some encouragement to talk about their day.
Your children may need that extra support if they’re struggling with staying at home. We encourage you to learn ways on how to prevent feeling alone during distance learning. It may take some trial and error, but don’t worry — give it enough effort and you’ll find the best way to support your kids through this time!