socialization
Baby steps are best for getting kids together amid the pandemic. (Getty Images)

When the kids are finally around other kids, while joyous, emotions can also go from zero to 60 over the simplest things.

As we slowly make our way back outside, how can parents get their kids (and ourselves) back to socializing courteously and respectfully? 

Dr. Christina Johns, senior medical advisor for Lake Success-based PM Pediatrics, shared tips on how kids can transition back to being social.

Has quarantine affected kids’ development? We currently don’t have enough long-term data to determine what developmental effects the pandemic will have on children, and we will be following that very closely in the years to come. 

As New York gradually reopens, how can kids transition into being social again? My recommendation to parents is to ease in slowly. I suggest shorter play dates and one-on-one time to start, all the while reminding children to respect their peers’ physical space.

How can kids deal with misunderstandings and hurt feelings once they start having more face-to-face time? Role modeling, the behavior you want to see in your child, is key. I also suggest scripting. In other words, talk to your child about how to navigate these kinds of situations before they actually happen, and you can arm them with strategies. 

What can parents do if their child seems anxious or depressed as they get back to just being a kid? I would encourage parents to make sure they know what the truly concerning signs of depression and anxiety are in order to determine when it’s time to speak to a pediatric physician for help. Those signs can manifest in a child getting so anxious that they can’t get through their activities of daily life, their sleep schedule seems to be thrown off, they are completely disengaged, grades are dropping, etc. 

As for parents, how do we set good examples for our kids? We practice what we preach. One thing that I encourage parents to keep in mind is the idea of balance. Try your best as a parent to set boundaries for yourself and do something that’s actually engaging and social during the day. If you’ve been working all day, sitting in front of a screen, give yourself a break and go outside to chat with a neighbor. And, bring your child with you. If you start engaging in safe, social activities together, your child is more likely to pick that up and do it independently. 

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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