6 ways to keep the kids social during
While socialising in person isn’t possible at the moment, there’s never been a better time to hang out with friends in the virtual world. Physical distancing can still be social, explains parenting expert Elly Robinson – just think of it as distance socialising. “It’s a difficult adjustment but young people are really great at innovating around this and thinking of ways to connect,” she adds.
1. Let them video chat with their friends as a group and one-on-one.
If your child is following a school curriculum, schedule group chats at lunch time. They can eat and talk together just like they do at school. Remind your child to try and include everyone from their friendship group so that no-one feels left out.
2. Bring back letters.
Children love receiving notes from friends and now more than ever, reaching out like this will be appreciated and savoured. Put together a care package for a friend and include favourite toys or games their mate can borrow for a while.
3. Socialise with your kids.
They might not get to practise their social skills face to face at the moment, so act as each other’s social support. Make a point of having morning tea together. Make a special occasion out of dinner. Dress up the dining table or have a picnic in the lounge or garden. Tell them to invite a friend along – set a spot for them and have them dial in remotely and eat with you.
4. Teach them mindfulness.
In these uncertain times, looking to the future can be scary – and for children, it can be overwhelming to imagine weeks going by without seeing their friends. Check in and ask how they’re doing, and turn to quality online mental health resources.
5. Share your hobbies.
Turn your online date into something more active and involved. Suggest your child and their friends do art or dance online together. Get the band back together and have a music practice or sing-along. Have a group movie viewing or work out together.
6. Older kids and teens are likely far better at transferring their social lives to a purely online experience.
But while apps such as Instagram, Snapchat and Houseparty keep kids connected, they can also cause problems, and as with all social media, should be used with caution. “Remind your children about safe online practices and not to forget those things around making sure they understand the rules around engagement online,” suggests Elly.