By: Jessica DeLing
COVID-19 has brought on a host of challenges for families. It can be incredibly lonely and isolating being apart from friends, particularly for children and teens who will be engaged in remote learning this upcoming fall. Social connection is an important protective factor for emotional well-being. Connecting with other peers virtually during these uncertain times can be extremely beneficial.
As children move towards adolescents, they begin managing their lives on their own. During this transitional time, they will continue to depend on their parents and loved ones for support. It’s important for families to help children and teens learn about values, emotions and decision making skills as they strive to establish their unique identities. Below are some recommendations for supporting your child’s social development during this time when social interactions are limited.
- Set an example for healthy relationships: Modeling positive relationships is important. Your child can observe you talk through problems, communicate respectfully and speak honestly to other family members, co-workers, friends and neighbors.
- Build stronger connections with your child or teen: Promote meaningful interactions by sharing your interests and demonstrating an interest in your child’s hobbies.
- Encourage honest communication, even if emotions are high: Respectful communication is often a learned skill. Modeling and teaching them how to listen to others and share their thoughts calmly, even in conflict, will help with future social interactions and relationships.
- Support them as they establish boundaries: Teaching children about privacy, setting limits, understanding roles in friendship and appropriate online behavior is critical to their social development.
While there are many skills parents and families can teach or practice at home, there is no doubt that adolescents also learn from their peers. This fall, the psychologists at C&FD are offering a virtual girls’ group to support social development. This group will provide an opportunity for girls to connect with other 12-14 year olds. In addition to providing a safe place for social support, the group will also target various social skills that are important in navigating friendships and peer relationships. Discussions will include social problem-solving, choosing friends, and how to maintain friendships during COVID-19. We will be offering a Tuesday afternoon group and Thursday morning group starting in September and will run for 6 weeks. If you are interested, please call our office at 704-332-4834 for more information.
If you would like more information on how to talk to your child about difficult topics, we recommend this resource as a place to get started.