Helping Children And Teens Cope With Social Isolation

Social isolation can come in many forms. More often than not, it’s caused by illness. The current pandemic has brought about a new form of mandated social isolation, likely restricting your child’s ability to see their friends. Other conditions might bring about social isolation too – friendship trouble, a recent move, or starting at a new school can also lead to feelings of isolation.

Help Your Child Develop Resilience

Resilience is our ability to withstand and move beyond adversity– optimally, resilience gives us the ability to become stronger as a result of challenges.

Helping your child develop resilience takes a multifaceted approach. One of the best starting points is looking at the ways you can increase your child’s sense of agency. In other words, your child needs to know that they have some measure of control over their lives. Encourage this type of thinking by focusing on how challenges or problems make them feel AND how they will solve or overcome those challenges. For younger children, you may have to formulate a plan with them, as their developmental stage can play a role in their ability to articulate or set a plan in motion.

Create Opportunities to Socialize

Physical isolation is rarely a permanent affair and luckily, in today’s world, there’s almost always a method of socializing. In cases where physical distancing is required, encourage your child to call or video chat with their friends and family. If physical distancing is not required, there are other ways to help your child ease feelings of isolation. For example, you might opt to sign them up for extracurricular activities or arrange for play dates. Take some time to chat with your child about activities they might like.

Talk to Your Kids

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is hear your children out. How isolation is making them feel, why they think they’re isolated, and how they plan on dealing with isolation are all important topics of conversation. What’s more, speaking with you about these things is, in some ways, a stopgap to isolation in and of itself.

In circumstances where social isolation isn’t being caused by sickness or other unpreventable factors, it can be a good idea to talk to teachers and other parents about your child’s behavior. Some children (especially young children) don’t yet have the social skills necessary to create lasting friendships. You might talk to them about shyness, aggressiveness, or other traits that may be creating barriers to social interaction.

Keep in mind that social isolation can be exceedingly difficult to go through. Be patient, listen, and validate your child’s feelings, affirming that together, you can work toward a solution.

Guest Author: 

Veronica Wallace is a childhood educator and blogging enthusiast. Some of her favourite articles can be found on the Kidthink website. Kidthink specializes in offering clinical treatment of mental illness in children aged twelve and under, along with community outreach and training for this type of treatment.

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