The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on teenagers and young adults by physically separating them from the touchstones of normal adolescent development such as school, their friendships, possible romantic relationships, and even summer job opportunities. As a parent, you need to consider the best ways to keep your kids’ friendships alive during the pandemic. For starters, you don’t want your children to feel alone. Isolation can cause anxiety and depression, as well as exacerbate existing problems. If you are not sure where to start, you need not look further than yourself. Investing in quality time now with your kids can only serve as a benefit in the long run. Also, depending one-on-one time with an adult has been shown to improve not only connection but also resilience.
You will also be mindful of the ages of your kids. The needs of teenagers will be different from the needs of toddlers. It may even be more difficult for you if you have a mixture of both. Although, if that is the case, it means your children will have built-in companions in the form of their siblings.
Normally, you’d want to keep your teen’s time on social media and in the virtual world to a minimum. However, during a pandemic, you may be thankful that teenagers have access to social media. You may want to not only allow but also encourage your teenagers to use FaceTime or other similar platforms to communicate with their peers. Concentrate on the quality of two-way, interactive connections rather than the quantity.
Since a lot of their consistent contact is likely to be virtual, make sure your teens aren’t being cyberbullied or aren’t being cyberbullied. Be sure to foster a relationship where you can ask them who they’re communicating with because you don’t want your teen to get into an inappropriate relationship or friendship with someone they don’t know.
Another useful way to keep kids of all ages engaged is by involving them in community-based projects. There are certain low-contact ways to help others during the pandemic. For instance, knitting scarves for the homeless or sewing masks for a hospital are good engaging activities to pass the time. It can even foster greater connections if you get your kids to involve their friends in the project.
You should also consider and arrange for regular in-person contact with peers when it’s safe and proper social-distancing measures are in place. You can allow them to connect with neighbors, relatives, or classmates. If they are looking for more ideas on how to connect and maintain friendships, especially for birthdays and special celebrations, there are examples online. For instance, one kid had the benefit of engaging with his friends and neighbors when they organized a drive-by birthday caravan. The type of social distancing party is good for birthdays, graduations, and any other milestones you may want to celebrate. If you are still stumped on what are the best things to do with kids, know that sometimes the best thing to do with them, is to just be with them while you all stay healthy and happy.