Tools from Why Will No One Play With Me? to help you talk about the Pandemic with your child on Take Control ADHD Podcast
Tools from Why Will No One Play With Me? to help you talk about the Pandemic with your child on Take Control ADHD Podcast
The holidays are a very social time. This can be a good thing; and a not so good thing. Plan now to teach your child these social emotional skills exercises during the holidays.
Are you trying to avoid last year’s social challenges? Do you wish your teenager would chat easily with your uncle and not ignore everyone to text friends? Did your daughter’s clothing and comments raise eyebrows? Do you fear your son’s look of irritation or his sharp tone will make you cringe again? Were you told your kids played too rough with the cousins?
The holidays are a perfect time to practice your child social emotional skills. Use this time to work on one specific mission. Probably what causes your child the most angst is also an area of concern for you. Talk openly about this with your child. Jointly decide on one social emotional skill that will build communication and relationship skills to last a lifetime.
Where ever you go (or don’t go as the case may be) – you will interact with people. Use every opportunity at the mall, holiday parties virtually with friends and family, to standing in line at the grocery store – use the daily life of a parent managing the holiday grind to your advantage.
This year can be different. Not only are we in unprecedented times, but our social gatherings are more likely to be online than in person. That is OK. It is what it is this year – so let’s make the best of it.
This whole journey starts with you coaching your child. Some kids make friends easily and know how to navigate any social event. Other kids do not. As a parent you are the perfect person to work with your child. You know his struggles. You are her original teacher and are with her day in and day out.
Make a game of this exercise. It can be your own “little secret” and will not only help your child develop critical social skills, but also build your connection.
You are not alone. The pandemic has hit all of us hard in so many ways: financially, medically, academically, and socially. Social emotional concerns are at an all-time high. Parents share their struggles and concerns with me. My heart breaks for these kids – and this includes my own two children.
“Where is the fun?!” “How can this still be going on?” “Why can’t someone fix it?”
Add to the pandemic the chaos of an armed insurrection that occurred at the US Capitol. We, parents, are confused and feel helpless. Wouldn’t you gladly “fix” this if at all humanly possible?
I am here to tell you that there are things you can do as a parent to create joy and help your child or teen stay socially and emotionally centered.
5 Ways to Use Social Emotional Learning to Bring Back Joy and Civility
The pandemic is tough – on every member of the family. Sharing together ways to overcome the struggle will nurture bonds that will hopefully bring up nice memories down the road on how you all pulled through in one of the worse periods in history.
It’s six months into the pandemic, and your child is feeling the effects. Social distancing, virtual school, the loss of sports, chorus, and connections to friends are overwhelming your child or teen. His energy level is down. She hardly sees friends. All of their “free” time (which is quite a lot lately) is on screens. And most places are likely entering another phase of the COVID-19 lockdown, similar to last March. They’re likely in need of a few ways to find joy—maybe you are too!—so here, my tips to help take back your happiness.
Joy is hard to come by lately. Wouldn’t it be great to order a big box of it on Prime? With so much out of our control, don’t get discouraged. There are things you can do as a parent to create joy and help your child or teen stay centered:
“I don’t want to go out” or “No, You can’t see your friends” can be a sign that you are socially withdrawing out of more than just an abundance of precaution. You may be self-isolating out of fear.
Even before COVID19 and social distancing, many of the children and adults I hear from and work with struggled with loneliness and with real intimacy and connection.
Do you find that even if you feel like connecting, that you stop yourself?
Do you decline invitations in person or virtually, eat and spend most of your day alone and find the thought of being social too daunting? If so, it is critical to figure out why. Many people trying to be safe and responsible or who have trouble connecting to begin with find it hard to reach out. How do I do this? What can I say? As time goes on it gets harder. And life becomes less about the joy that connection brings us as social animals and more about drudgery, duties, and tasks. My concern is that long term isolation can lead to depression, addiction, anxiety, mood swings, self-harm, and that people want to hear from you. And if you struggle, then so many of us professionals, books and resources are here and want to help you. Connection and reaching out is hard right now. It’s easy to slip off our radar and for many it’s easier to stay in their cocoon. Reaching out to connect feels hard. (Please scroll below for suggested resources)
Our human brains are wired for connection so social isolation can become a healthy hazzard. We rely on each other, exchange knowledge and share community. Socially isolating means you are cut off from Human C – What Dr. Hallowell calls, the Other Vitamin C – Human Connection. Lack of human connection removes you from the resources you need, and can land you in a fatigue that is hard to extract yourself from.
Working or learning virtually can be a challenge especially if reading social cues and managing your communication is a challenge. We have the technology to create and support virtual teams, but collaborating remotely requires special skills.
These tips can help build social and communication skills in a virtual setting:
Change can be overwhelming. Rather than worrying about everything at once, a good approach is to pick one mission, one thing to work on and then to focus on that goal. What you focus on will grow and develop and will help you manage your social relationships virtually.
We’re all figuring this out, yet some of us have adapted to the rules of Pandemic Protection faster and better than others. This is a weird new world, yet community and civility should not be tossed out with our disposable masks!
Some people wear masks driving alone in cars, while others claim they “don’t believe in them.” COVID is real, and its effects will last a long time. As a social skills coach, I see all types of behavior as we adjust to this mask-wearing, distancing new normal.
Here are my top observations of how to inadequately protect yourself and others. Next time you brave a store trip or visit with a neighbor, see if you recognize yourself in these personnas.
Top 10 Etiquette Faux-Pas During a Pandemic:
There isn’t one person on the planet who wishes this pandemic was here to stay. I am tired of it. You are sick of it. And those who lost someone to it especially grieve. Let’s do the best we can to protect ourselves and others so this nightmare can be put to rest.
Now is the time for parents to contemplate what fall will look like. None of us knows what to expect, but we can’t just adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Measures should be put into place this summer in preparation for a successful school year.
As a social skills coach, I suggest that parents review the social struggles that were most prevalent last year. Did your daughter make friends easily or did she eat alone at lunch? Now would be a good time to ask her if there were people she would like to get to know better. Are there clubs, sports, events etc. that interest her? Find out if enrollment is starting for the fall for the programs she likes. She can ask a friend to join, or do it alone with the plan of making new friends, maybe even from another town. Send a message to the guidance counselor or new teacher and explain her interest in making new friends. She isn’t the first to voice this concern.
If school work was an issue because of executive functioning challenges or attentional issues, reach out to the school administration and ask if you can turn things in differently, or later.
Video interactions are a great way to “play” with others, and older kids can go to the park, etc. with the understanding of distancing.
Now is also the time to create plans and infrastructure around the use of electronics as it is probable that remote learning will be here to stay.
COVID Resource – Are we becoming cruel and self-centered or just oblivious?
Let’s face it, we are in a social crisis. Socially distancing is making us exhausted and LONELY. What’s more, on a whole, we are becoming “less nice. Bullying, cruelty and insensitivity may actually be on the rise as we shelter behind our screens. We all witness how cruelty and callousness divides a community – even if it is unintentional. Where we had seen a child burst into tears, or innately sense a rebuff, social distancing has taken away these vital, often non-verbal social exchanges.
Empathy is showing compassion, understanding another person’s experience, and walking in someone else’s shoes. Empathetic children are less likely to bully others. The ability to show empathy is a life skill- if someone in your office does not receive a promotion you are expected to read the room and hold back your joy that you were promoted, if someone’s pet passes away you are expected to express sorrow- and when someone is in distress to ignore that distress does not win friends or make you a prospect for future management roles.
Environment, genetics, social and cultural factors influence our ability to feel empathy.
Some children due to their own brain-based challenges do not read social cues, facial expressions and emotions, they don’t have the perspective or the self-awareness to see how others interpret their actions and behaviors. These children, for whatever reason, do not understand how they come across. Their intentions are good, but they don’t really know how to tune in and “walk in the other person’s shoes.”
Teaching empathy must involve not only fostering a community to promote empathy and kindness but also coaching children individually to help guide them toward greater understanding of what kind and empathetic behavior looks like by modeling empathy and reinforcing it with all actions and messages children hear so they can learn to “walk in someone else’s shoes.”
3 Tips to Teach Empathy to Your Child
Some children naturally begin to demonstrate empathy as early as 12 months old; others struggle for whatever reason and may demonstrate rude and hurtful behavior. But the ability to understand other people’s emotions and respond with kindness is a life skill essential to help children be part of any group throughout their lives.
Read more about empathy
Learn more about the oblivious kid in the 2020 Parenting Palooza
Who knew playing at the playground, running on the soccer field or summer camp would be taken for granted?
Adults have an easier time staying connected to friends, but kids need to keep in touch just as much, if not more than we do.
There are many ways to keep your young one social and active with friends while on lockdown. They can continue to build on the social skills strategies that you’ve been building on over the last several months.
Ways to make virtual playdate a success –
Games and Activities for virtual playdates –
Debriefs are important
Children learn by reflecting on what they are doing and how it impacts others. The more you engage with you child, in a nonjudgmental way after the playdate is over, the better. Chat about what they did well and celebrate their effort. I heard you tell Julie what to do and what game to play. What do you think Julie felt when you told her what to choose? What choices did Julie get to make? What choices did you get to make? Let’s look at whether or not that was fair together. Then also ask your child what they struggled with and make a plan and practice for the future.
Kids can learn that even though they have to distance themselves right now, they don’t have to forget about the ties they have to their friends.
Read more about Social Skills development
and COVID resources