Coping with separation from and socialization with family and friends during COVID-19

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Learn about some ways you can help your child or adolescent to cope and stay connected with family and friends while they are separated from them.

Key points

  • Not being able to see family and friends can make children and adolescents feel isolated.
  • There are many coping skills and strategies that can be used to help children and adolescents manage stressful experiences.
  • It is important to make sure children and adolescents have opportunities for age-appropriate social interactions with their family and friends.
  • Children may be experiencing anxiety or reluctance related to re-connecting in person with friends and family that were previously not an option due to the pandemic.

While guidance continues to change about in-person visits, many children are still not able to interact and socialize with family and friends the way they did before the pandemic. The changing recommendations can create more frustration for some children. Try to set up opportunities for feelings of connection for your child to help reduce their feelings of isolation.

Coping involves using skills or strategies to manage stressful experiences. Ways of coping come in all shapes and sizes. Some examples of coping skills and strategies include distraction, self-soothing strategies, mindfulness activities and using positive self-statements. Creating routines where possible and having your own family boundaries can be helpful for children to feel more in control during an uncertain time.

Before re-engaging with in-person visits when it is safe to do so, talk with your children about their comfort levels and allow them to ask questions. Meet them where they are at with their level of comfort.

Give one of these a try!

  • Create a photo album of your favorite activities and/or memories.
  • Share funny stories or memories.
  • Write a story where you are the main character and ask someone else to make up an ending to the story.
  • Make a playlist of your favorite songs that remind you of family and friends.
  • Take a mental vacation. For example, imagine your favorite place and who would be there with you.
  • Relax your body from your head to your toes.
  • Ask yourself, what would I tell my best friend right now?
  • Share your weather report. For example, I feel like a storm is coming.
  • Mindfully listen to a favorite song.
  • Draw a picture of your favorite person, animal, or place.

Remaining connected to family and friends is another way to cope with stressful experiences. Due to COVID-19, it may be more challenging to meaningfully connect with family and friends, so we must be creative!

Creative ways to stay connected

  • Schedule a time each day to connect with parents, siblings, extended family members, and friends through a phone or video call.
  • Enjoy a virtual meal with family members or friends.
  • Give each child in the family the same stuffed animal, so that no matter how far away they are from each other or how long they are separated, they can feel connected through an invisible string that connects the stuffed animals to each other.
  • Have your child draw pictures or write letters to siblings, family members, and friends.
  • Work with your child to create a fabric “hug” for a loved one by writing special messages or drawing pictures on a blanket. Do not forget to wash the blanket before sending it!
  • Plan virtual social gatherings with family and friends such as story time or comic book club!
  • Record favorite songs or story books sung or read by a loved one. This can provide comfort and assist with establishing a routine.
  • Encourage your child to start a blog and invite family and friends to follow them.
  • Send funny pictures and text messages to make your family and friends laugh!
Last updated: November 15th 2021