How To Help Kids Re-Adjust to Social Events After Covid-19 and Minimize Anxiety
As the Summer of 2021 begins to look a lot more normal, families are feeling hopeful and looking forward to the coming months. Vacations can happen, social events can be planned, and activities that were unavailable for a year are now a possibility again. Adults are rejoicing, but how are the kids doing? Parents now face complex challenges of creating a balanced schedule that doesn’t overwhelm their children, provides stimulating social interactions, and keeps everyone in the family safe.
The pandemic took a toll on kids’ mental health and it’s not something that will just bounce back now that things are slowly shifting to normal. While this is yet another new obstacle parents are facing, they don’t have to do it alone. We’ve put together some helpful tips for how to minimize anxiety in kids this summer following the pandemic.
As always, do what is best for you and your family based on your individual needs and what your child is telling you. We hope this guide will help parents navigate a hopeful yet still strange summer that encourages their kids to flourish and engage in activities once more.
1) Make Plans for the Summer but be Flexible to Help Kids with Anxiety
You can finally plan a family vacation or small gathering for the first time in a year and it feels great. To help support kids’ mental health following the pandemic, remember to be hopeful but flexible with every plan that you make.
One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic was that no one knew how to prepare for anything that was coming next. Help combat your kid’s anxiety by discussing a plan b for each vacation or activity you plan to do.
Having a backup plan in place and discussing these with your kids will help them to feel stable if things have to change. If you plan on going to the beach, for instance, but something occurs last minute and it has to change, tell them your second plan will be to set up a sprinkler in the backyard. The key to planning but staying flexible is to always remain positive and maintain a stable foundation. This should help combat anxiety in kids following the pandemic.
2) To Combat Stress in Kids, Create Family Ground Rules
Kids may be just as stressed about new changes as you are. To help minimize stress in kids following the pandemic, we recommend creating family ground rules that everyone will follow. This means agreeing to what is safe or comfortable for everyone in the family, and setting boundaries for everyone to follow together.
Ground rules will help kids’ mental health by creating a sense of stability. If it is clear what each of you is comfortable with, your kid will be able to manage activities and expectations more easily, reducing their overall stress. You can decide these ground rules together or set them as parents and then discuss them with your kids.
3) Be a Role Model for Kids Nervous After Covid-19
Setting an example for how to navigate outings after functions begin reopening can be very helpful to kids. You want to be a role model in a way that is stable and honest. Putting on a brave face is important but don’t lie if your kids ask you if you are nervous. What’s important here is demonstrating how you can be both nervous and excited at once.
Managing kids’ mental health after covid-19 will be a balance of talking honestly with them about what you’re excited about and explaining how you may be nervous, too. You want your child to feel validated in their emotions and see how they can handle them in a strong and supportive way.
4) For Kids with Separation Anxiety, Plan Small Separate Activities
Routines are everything to children. Even though the last year may have forced you and your family into an unusual routine, it has become a new routine for your kids nonetheless. While everyone may be excited to jump back into a more “normal” routine, parents have to anticipate separation anxiety that may occur in their kids.
This summer is an important opportunity to explore separation anxiety in kids as a result of covid-19. If your child has been remote or home-schooled with you for the last year, going back to a traditional school in the fall may seem overwhelming to them. Begin this summer by planning exciting but separate activities that still feel safe and comfortable for your family.
These can include dropping your child off for a playdate for the afternoon, planning a weekend sleepover, or exploring safe weekly camp activities near you. Transitioning back to a more normal routine will involve helping your kid feel stable and confident when they are separate from you. Take small steps and talk with your child about their feelings every step of the way. No matter how slow you have to go, begin today to help them readjust to their own independence.
5) Know When to Talk to a Child Therapist
It’s okay if you don’t know how to navigate things reopening on your own with your child. While you may encourage your child to speak openly with you, give them space, create stability, and have a routine in place, it’s okay if you and your child need more assistance. The pandemic was a very extreme experience for anyone, especially for kids, and a return to normal won’t happen overnight or without support.
The Family Center is open to take on new clients, including kids or families who are struggling with pandemic anxiety or other covid-19 mental health issues. A child therapist can help support you and your child while you look ahead to the new school year. Take the time this summer to explore, set a routine, and prepare for the upcoming school year.