How do I help my child stay connected?
This is particularly true for young people, as they're at a stage in their development where social connection is particularly important for their sense of self and identity, which feeds into their sense of wellbeing.
Here are four strategies to improve social connectedness for young people:
- Engage in detective or realistic thinking: If you notice that your child is feeling sad, withdrawn or anxious, it may help to engage in some detective or realistic thinking. Ask them to identify the thought behind the feeling. If they feel lonely, left out or isolated, collect some evidence for their thoughts and come up with alternative ways to cope.
- Problem-solve: Help your child to work through their feelings of being disconnected from others. Most children will be missing their friends or other important people in their life, so it may be helpful to sit down with them and think of ways to increase their sense of connection.
- Guard against social isolation and increase a sense of connection: Connecting with others can be the best antidote to stress, anxiety and low mood. For children who are socially anxious or naturally shy, social isolation may seem to have some benefits as it reduces the opportunities for them to engage in anxiety-provoking situations. However, it’s important for you to encourage your child to face social situations in a gradual way as avoidance will only make it really hard for your child to engage in these social situations post COVID-19.
- Tolerate your child's distress: The hardest part about being a parent/carer is seeing your child suffer or experience distress. Try to see this as an opportunity to support your child to develop coping strategies. As parents/carers, we often try to solve or get rid of problems for our children to reduce their distress. In the long run, this is not always helpful as it doesn't give your child an opportunity to develop ways of coping.
In the video below, Dr Gemma Sicouri from the Centre for Emotional Health and Department of Psychology at Macquarie University talks to parents and carers about how to help children and teens stay socially connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the video or download the tip sheet.
Content owner: Centre for Emotional Health Last updated: 14 May 2020 2:08pm