As we continue in COVID-19 quarantine, children and parents are becoming increasingly frustrated and irritable. Normal routines and schedules are turned upside down and inside out. Kids and parents going out to school and work are now home. Everyone’s lives have been changed in some way.
Although kids are home with family, they still struggle with social isolation, feeling lonely and missing their friends. If you think about how children interact at school, they are frequently in physical contact, hugging each other or jostling in line, putting an arm around a buddy’s shoulder. Suddenly everyone is home away from all their friends. Suddenly, in quarantine, the closest we can come is 6 feet.
We know that in adults, social isolation and loneliness are correlated with premature death. In infants and toddlers, the lack of social interaction and physical contact can lead to “failure to thrive”, poor weight gain, and delayed development. We clearly all need ‘contact comfort’, a term coined by Harry Harlow in his research during the 1950s and 1960s.
So try to be patient with your children (and yourself!). Kids are home, trying to manage schoolwork without the teacher or only seeing teachers a couple of days each week on a Zoom conference. They feel lonely and keep trying to connect with friends through zoom, texting, or video games. Children can’t go out and play in the parks, get lots of physical activity and social contact. They are quarantined at home, struggling with schoolwork, struggling with parents who are feeling overwhelmed themselves, struggling with feeling lonely. No wonder tempers are short, tantrums are more frequent and whining is on the increase.
So, during this difficult time, take more time to cuddle with your child, give them backrubs, and quiet time together reading books. Encourage them to call friends, have face time visits, and tell jokes. Vary your routine on the weekends. Discover new activities and hobbies. And above all, be patient with your kids. They are suffering and struggling as much as you.
If you would like more information, visit specializedtherapy.com or give us a call at 201-488-6678.