Children and teens may be isolating more frequently due to the restrictions and social distancing protocols from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our children might be having a difficult time with these restrictions, as they are still developing their communication and socialization skills. While we might also be affected by this isolation, we are more likely to see the bigger picture and realize that life will not be like this forever. On the other hand, our kids are growing up in this current pandemic world. They are building their expectations of what the world looks like during these formative years. The pandemic could impact their skills in building relationships and maintaining friendships. We can help them to continue socializing during this time and also encourage them to remain mentally healthy during uncertain times.
Caring for Yourself: The First Step to Helping Others
We always need to remember that caring for ourselves and our own wellness is paramount to helping someone else. Aaron Huey of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center believes that caring for ourselves comes first. Maintaining the relationship we have with our parenting partner comes next, and only then are we going to be best equipped to help our kids. (For more information, listen to “Taking Care of Your Relationship” and other podcasts here). We also need to think of the example that we are setting for our kids as a way of helping them. If our kids are not seeing us take care of ourselves, how are they going to learn or take us seriously? Sometimes, the best thing that we can do is be role-models.
We need to be sure that we are not also isolated during this time. We can still stay in touch with our friends and family even though we may need to put more effort into remaining in contact. Isolation and loneliness are also feelings that we can learn to manage. We may not be able to socialize as much as we normally would; however, we can learn to appreciate the time that we have to explore personal interests. We can also focus more on our immediate family as our “Quaran-team.” These restrictions can be an opportunity to build our family bonds.
Helping Your Kids With Isolation
Isolation and feelings of loneliness can make our kids feel disconnected from the world. They may struggle with these feelings and they may feel sad, frustrated, or discouraged. However, this time could be an opportunity for your kids to learn to build a relationship with themselves and get to know themselves better. They can also learn to manage their “frustration tolerance,” as they will need to deal with feelings of boredom and frustration. Remember that there is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely.
Being alone means that we are alone, yet comfortable in our own skin. Our kids might be engaging in meaningful activities that can lead to personal growth and fulfillment. We might think about activities that our children are interested in that are completed alone, yet can bring people together. For example, we can have “family reading time,” meaning that everyone is engaged in reading on their own and then later can talk about what they have been reading. We can even start a “book club” with our kids by picking a book of the month for the family. When our kids are feeling lonely, this might look similar to being alone. The difference is the way that loneliness feels to the person experiencing it.
Feeling lonely means that we might feel sad or upset when we are alone. We might start to get depressed or feel that we do not have a place in the world. When our kids are feeling lonely, we might need to help them by spending more time with them or talking with them about their feelings. Listening to our kids talk about loneliness can help them feel heard and less isolated. Sometimes, we can help by opening up our own feelings. Many parents feel like they need to appear strong at all times and act like nothing is ever wrong. We need to remember that being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness and that our kids will not look at us like our lives are out of control. Remember that we can talk to our children about our own feelings and how we cope. Venting to our kids about our problems without telling what we are doing to solve them can be confusing for them to hear. However, talking to our kids about the distressing feelings we have had in the past and what we did to move forward can be inspiring.
If our kids are beginning to feel lonely, we can encourage them to reach out to friends or schedule more family time. No matter what, we all need to stick together to get through this. Show your kids that you are there for them, that you love them, and that you are going to take care of them.
While many restrictions that were initially brought on by the pandemic have been raised, we are still continuing to social distance and limit our contact with others outside of our families. This may be stressful for our kids to deal with. This time can be an opportunity for our kids to learn how to cope with low frustration levels and learn how to be fine with being alone. They may need us to encourage them to reach out to friends or spend time with the family when they feel lonely. We can make more time to spend with our family to keep our families healthy during difficult times. If your kid has emotional issues or other problems—such as depression or extreme anxiety—they may be especially vulnerable at this time. If your child needs additional support, call Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center today at (303) 443-3343. We are here for you and your family!