Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by BE-RAD Lab at the University of New Orleans.
Living in a Post-Pandemic World :: 5 Tips to Help Your Children Adjust Successfully
New Orleans is opening up just in time for summer fun! While most of us are excited to return to normal life, there will be a period of adjustment for both adults and children as we resume gathering, traveling, and enjoying summer activities. Here are 5 ways parents can help support their children as we enter a post-pandemic world.
How can I help my child?
For the past 14 months, we have been encouraging our children to be very cautious about the world around us. It is understandable that children may feel some anxiety about re-entering the world. Starting with small changes, such as attending a friend’s birthday party with 10 other children, may be more comfortable than attending a large outdoor concert with hundreds of people.
Talk to your children about what has changed, and what has not.
Children may be understandably confused about why things have changed – since they aren’t consuming the news many adults do, the changes may feel random to them, and randomness can be scary! Therefore, it is important to explain to our children that we should still be careful about spreading germs and continue to wear masks. But now that many adults have been vaccinated, we can resume seeing friends and family because far fewer people will get sick. Remember to keep this discussion age-appropriate! (Vaccines, for example, can be described as a kind of medicine that you take before you get sick so that you won’t get sick later.)
Encourage your children to take new risks.
Some children will dive headfirst into their pre-pandemic activities, but others may be a bit more apprehensive. These children will require a little more encouragement to participate in activities that feel risky, such as riding the school bus or using shared playground equipment. Parents should encourage their children to take these calculated risks, even if they feel nervous themselves! Children are keen observers of their parents’ anxiety, and will often hesitate if they feel mom or dad isn’t comfortable.
Most people don’t like change, and children are no different. It is totally normal that resuming in-person schooling and activities might lead to some behavioral difficulties (increased anxiety, tantrums, or rule-breaking behavior are quite common). Parents should exercise a little extra patience during this time, as changes are very often associated with transient child behavior problems. Once children get re-adjusted to their former lives, these problems should get better.
Open a space for children to reflect on their experiences.
Some children, especially adolescents, may not volunteer information about their inner thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it’s important for parents to ask questions about their children’s experiences with re-opening, and to model sharing by discussing some of their own transitions (e.g., returning to in-person work).
You can help us learn more!
Are you interested in helping us learn more about how parents can support their children during stressful times? If so, the BE-RAD Lab at the University of New Orleans is seeking parents and their 8-12-year-old children to participate in a research study! Parent-child pairs would complete a weekend visit at the University of New Orleans, and both would be compensated for their time. Parents can fill out our Interested Participants form, visit our page on Facebook, or email us at [email protected] for more information!
Dr. Sarah Black is a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Orleans. She earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Stony Brook University, and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She is broadly interested in how the typical biological, social, and environmental events of childhood and adolescents can be disrupted and lead to increased risk for behavioral problems. Currently, her lab is investigating the role of parent-child relationships in helping protect children from such adverse outcomes.