How to Help a Child Who Has Lost Social Skills Due to the Pandemic

Some kids are struggling socially right now. Here are 9 steps parents can take to help a child who has lost social skills. Help them re-engage and re-connect.

As many places across the country return to “normal” and the dust begins to settle, we are starting to see the effects of a two year disruption in routines and relationships. Some people, due to a variety of factors, have been hit harder than others. If your child seems to have lost some social ground over the past couple of years, here are a few tips to help them dust themselves off and get back in the game.

1. Accept that fact that things are different                

You may remember an outgoing, bubbly child from two years ago but now see a child who is uncomfortable and unsure in social settings and wish you could get the “old” version of your child back. Don’t waste emotional energy on those types of thoughts. We are in unprecedented times and we are all figuring it out as we go. Your child is too. They need you here in the moment, not wondering what “could have been.”

2. The world may have slowed down, but your child’s development didn’t

Two years is a HUGE portion of their current life span and their development carried on, even if everything else didn’t. So your pre-tween from two years ago is now a tween and has all the emotional and hormonal turmoil to go along with it. Who’s to say what struggles they would be facing today, with or without a pandemic? Some of the social difficulties your child is facing may be completely normal.

3. Focus first on equilibrium

Your child has had a disruption no living generation has experienced. You may have to adjust expectations a bit. If your child is struggling with social interactions, you may have to pare down their calendar temporarily. Create breathing room. They may not be ready to jump back into all the things your family was involved with before. And that is okay. Allow your child respite and space to venture out into the world again at a pace that is comfortable to them. Try to uncover their baseline comfort level and start there. But definitely don’t stop there.

4. Use language that inquires and explores

Talk openly with your child about what he or she needs to feel safe. I think it is easy for us to underestimate the importance of our children’s safety needs. They have been growing and developing at a time when even the grown-ups were unsure about how things would turn out. Take the time to explore this issue of safety by asking things such as, “When are you the most calm?” or “What situations give you the feeling that you want to leave?” “Is there anything that would help you want to stay?”

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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