Social Distancing with children…..creating memories or crying for help! Quick Tips for caregivers:
1. Try to keep a structured schedule and routine: Children (especially children with special needs) often thrive in structured environments. It can be helpful to continue to keep a schedule, with all activities, not just academics. The schedule may change from week to week; however, it should be presented to the child regularly to reduce anxiety about future events. Schedules can be time detailed or loosely time based (i.e., morning, afternoon, and evening activities).
2. Befriend Social Stories! Social stories are a great way to prepare children for new activities/events. Social stories can be developed by professionals working with the child or by caregivers, but should be tailored for the needs of the child (i.e., developmentally appropriate). Social stories are a great preventative strategy for reducing anxiety, as well as problem behaviors during this time.
3. Academics: Children are expected to continue learning even though schools are closed. That means, caregivers are expected to teach. It is important to remember: Everyone is experiencing this lack of educational instruction and caregivers are not expected to be teachers. Do what you can to facilitate learning, it is most important that caregivers are emotionally and mentally healthy.
4. Boost self-esteem: Although we want to continue the learning process throughout this year, this can be a great time to review mastered skills with children. In addition to reviewing skills that may not have been focused on during the year, engaging in mastered skills can also help increase self-confidence and self-esteem in children, as they are constantly being presented with new and challenging concepts during the school-year.
Boosting self-esteem/self-confidence can also be a helpful tactic with teenagers. Try framing social distancing as something they can do to help the world. By sacrificing time with friends, they are showing altruism and impacting society in a major way. Positive tactics are often much more effective than coercion and punishment with teenagers.
5. Screen time, do or don’t? Screen time can be used for good during isolation. Educational videos can help supplement academics with little facilitation by caregivers. Use technology to stay connected! Video chat with friends and family as often as possible to keep a feeling of normalcy for children. It is expected that most children will have significantly more screen time during social distancing. Caregivers should just monitor activity for safety as always, when outside life resumes, screen time can be reduced again.
Caregivers, please know that we are offering virtual appointments during this time. If you feel you need help during this difficult time, please do not hesitate to reach out!