After the past year of self-isolation, physical distancing, and various other COVID protocols that separated children from those outside of their bubble, getting them back into the routine may be difficult. The negative effects of screen time, losing track of friends, or the breakdown of friendships are all going to have an impact on your child’s perspective once all the protocols are lifted.
There exists a possibility that later in life your toddler may develop anxiety disorders that can be traced back to the isolated months spent in 2020 and 2021. In this article, we will look at ways you can ease your child back into the life they once enjoyed before the pandemic.
Start With Old Connections
Although some friends may have moved away, and your child has not had much contact with extended family members, you have to start reintroducing the key individuals who played significant roles in their lives before lockdown. This is the time to identify who those people are and take the time to rebuild those connections.
As your child moves out of isolation, assist them in knowing from whom they can get support and who is safe to be around. This will give your child an opportunity to rekindle lost or broken friendships and build trust and self-esteem through exposure to others who have been distant.
Promote The Need For Reflection
The past year is not lost. Neither has it been a year without growth and personal development. Your child filled the past several months with different activities and made sacrifices to remain safe and healthy.
‘’Encourage your toddler to take time to reflect on accomplishments achieved while dealing with COVID protocols, including such seemingly mundane skills as using Zoom or Skype in order to participate in school or family activities that could not be attended in person.’’ said Sandra Chiu, Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool. New hobbies, activities, and any other change that became a new habit needs to be acknowledged as a pathway to future growth.
Amp Up Physical Activity
If screen time has taken over in your household, implementing different forms of physical activity is an effective way to change that. Try taking a quick walk and stretch break around the house and yard between Zoom classes or design a dance skit to record and post on social media.
By making physical activity fun, you help your toddler connect with the body. Getting toddlers to move about burns off some pent-up energy while releasing tension. Getting outside provides them fresh air and time to connect with nature within the confines of the yard.
Assist in Building Self-Esteem
Being locked indoors and in a COVID bubble can cause much damage to a child’s self-esteem. By developing a strong support system around your child you can assist in reversing that self-concept. Set simple, attainable goals and follow them with recognition and praise once a goal is attained. The support system that forms through family and friendship bonds will require work to rebuild but that can be done through regular virtual contact and can be followed up with short personal exposure once COVID protocols have been relaxed enough to permit this.
Your Child’s Mindfulness
Mindfulness skills come from recognizing what a person experiences with their senses at any given current moment. You can help your child develop these skills through a simple exercise. Just ask your child to describe what is being felt by each of their five senses and how they make your child feel. Mindfulness skills teach your son or daughter to identify what feeling they have now and what needs to be done in the short-term future. It can mean needing a break from screen time right now to spending time in a quiet place ten minutes from now. Mindfulness helps your child choose tasks that affect their daily direction.
Limit Early Exposure
As tempting as it may be to fling open the doors and welcome all the neighborhood children over for a party to celebrate freedom from COVID restrictions, your child may not respond well to this. As much as he or she may be looking forward to such an event, having been in isolation for over a year is going to have an impact on how well your child will cope when finally exposed to others. By easing your child back into scheduled, and timed meetings and play dates, you will help them regain the social skills they had before spending a year in a social bubble. Don’t overwhelm your child; take time to get social.
Think of Others
Recognize that other individuals in your child’s life have been going through the same things as everyone in your family. Discuss this with your child and formulate a plan on how to react when a classmate, family member, or casual acquaintance reenters their life and seems anxious or uncomfortable in some way. Your child may also experience this feeling themselves thus providing the basis for being mindful that others are dealing with feelings of uncertainty following a year of protocols that restricted contact. By serving as a support for others, your child gives of themselves and learns the importance of thinking of others.
Toddlers and young children need to be socialized to assist in their overall development. In a way, COVID lockdowns forced that development to be put on hold while other activities filled the void. The lack of personal contact aside from virtual has not helped. With protocols changing and an end to isolation in sight, your child will have an opportunity to resume that development cycle. But they have to be eased into it. The tips above may help both you and your child navigate reintroducing yourselves to interactions and activities involving people from outside of your COVID bubble.