A mother and son embracing.

Additional Tips for Supporting Your Child's Social-Emotional Health

July 31, 2020

Approaching another month of home quarantine, you may have found yourself among a growing number of parents frustrated by the efficacy of their parenting abilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Promoting the social and emotional wellness of your child is no easy feat — global pandemic or not. 

The sudden, widespread discontinuation of in-person education is, as we touched on in an earlier article on the subject, an unprecedented occurrence that will permanently affect the lives of current and upcoming students. This sentiment likely evokes feelings of helplessness or anxiety for parents, many of whom can do little more to help flatten the curve and expedite the return to regularity than abide by CDC-mandated precautions. 

However, your work as a parent in these uncertain times is entirely essential as well. So to bolster your efforts, we’ve collected some additional suggestions for supporting your child’s social-emotional health.

Virtual Clubs and Social Meetups

For most children, a school closure means the loss of accompanying peer and social groups. In a piece for Child Trends, child trauma experts Jessica Dym Bartlett, Jessica Griffin, and Dana Thomson emphasize the importance of helping your child re-create this socialization during quarantine:

“Social distancing should not mean social isolation. Children [...] need quality time with their caregivers and other important people in their lives. Social connectedness improves children’s chances of showing resilience to adversity.”1

Thankfully, we live in a digital age, and creative avenues for staying in contact are more abundant than ever for today’s technically savvy teens. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you guide your child in navigating their options for remote connectivity:

  • Encourage your child to reach out to friends and loved ones via one of the various social media and video call platforms available, such as Zoom, Discord, or Houseparty. 
  • Suggest that your child form or join a virtual club surrounding their interests. Having a weekly video call discussion scheduled will aid in providing them with a sense of structure for their time while also giving them something to consistently look forward to.
  • Organize a virtual scavenger hunt for your kid and their friends to complete, or introduce them to a virtual board game app that enables them to compete with friends digitally.
  • Consider revising household rules or restrictions around electronics and social media usage for the duration of the quarantine.
  • Although we’ve suddenly found ourselves with what feels like an infinite amount of time, remember to help your child establish and maintain healthy boundaries for online hours.

Physical Activity and Sleep Schedule

Exercise has long been a popular tool for stress management and mental health maintenance among adults. But just as our present circumstances require innovative approaches to socialization, the ending of sports practices and athletic classes may pose a challenge for encouraging your child to engage in regular daily physical activity. Try suggesting one of the below activities to participate in together or as a family to break up lengthy sedentary periods:

  • Research fitness applications or local studios and gyms offering free online classes, writing your favorite options on a shared calendar to try throughout the week.
  • Go outside — being mindful of social distancing. Find a new place to walk, hike, or bike by checking local news for trail, park, or beach reopenings.

In addition to exercise, getting adequate sleep around a steady schedule is instrumental in the way your child processes and responds to their environment. “Sleep disruption has negative effects on emotional control, attention, and control of behavior,” explains Camille S. Johnson, Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today. “They don't need to follow the same early morning routine, but they do need some structure around sleep.”2

For many parents, providing comfort and consistency for their children has become another full-time job amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Remember to take care of yourself as well, keeping in mind the words of Bartlett, Griffin, and Thomson: “Caregivers must take care of themselves so they have the internal resources to care for others.”


Sources

1. Bartlett, J. D., Griffin, J., & Thomson, D. (2020, March). Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Child Trends. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/publications/resources-for-supporting-childrens-emotional-well-being-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

2. Johnson, C. S. (2020, March). Helping Your Teen Succeed at Remote Learning. Psychology Today. Retrieved fromhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/its-all-relative/202003/helping-your-teen-succeed-remote-learning


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