Re-Engaging in Social Activities

It’s been a long 14 months since the pandemic shut down life as students (and the world in general!) knew it. But with case numbers dropping around the country, it seems that many schools, sports groups and extracurricular activities are returning with additional safety precautions in place. This is great news for the social and emotional development of students of all ages! However, after such a long period of time in isolation or mostly interacting through a screen, some students may find getting back into the swing of regular social activities a little daunting.

Apex Leadership Co. understands this transition can be overwhelming and maybe even a little scary. However, the team offers tips for parents and guardians to help children re-engage in social activities.

Start Slow

There are likely some extroverts out there that can’t wait to get out of the house, get together with friends and rejoin all their previous groups and activities. But not everyone may have those same feelings. Shyer children or introverts may have survived the pandemic just fine being sheltered in their own homes. And other groups of students, such as teenagers, have had to experience big developmental changes during this time of isolation so getting back out into even just day-to-day social activities may make them uncomfortable or even afraid.

However, social activities are a huge part of a child’s life and important for social and emotional development. Plus, that’s where all the fun of interacting, making new friends and developing new skills and hobbies comes into play in their lives! So it’s an important aspect of a child’s growth to foster. Parents can help the not-so-enthusiastic children re-engage in activities by starting slow. Perhaps suggest a one-on-one play date or meet up with a close, longtime friend or sign them up for just one activity that is limited in size and interaction. This “dipping the toe in the water” method can help them warm up to the idea of diving back into more social activities over time.

Limit Screen Time

Now that there is more to do beyond the internet once again, parents can limit screen time and therefore naturally create more opportunity for children to re-engage in their pre-COVID social activities such as riding bikes with other kids in the neighborhood. Limiting screen time and encouraging (but not pressuring children into) more social time also creates a schedule, which many children find comforting. Having blocks of time designated for certain activities or creating a routine often provides children with feelings of safety and security — and these feelings are more important than ever in their post-pandemic lives.

However, setting screen time limits and encouraging kids to instead “go out and play” should not be presented as a punishment, otherwise they may begin to resent the activity that took the screen time’s place. Instead, provide opportunities for social activities. Joining a club or sport, taking an after school or summer class in which the child has an interest or setting up a few play dates/meet ups can naturally start taking up the time that has been spent online for the past year or so when other options and activities were very limited.

Let them Choose

Parents and guardians can present a wide array of activities that might appeal best to their own children — then, ultimately, it’s best for them to step back and let the child decide on an activity. Perhaps pre-COVID they were involved with a soccer league but now has garnered an interest in music or cooking. Great! Check out some local music classes or look into a cooking school that offers courses for children and teens. The options really are nearly endless.

Young soccer coach instructs teen players.

Build in Quiet/Alone Time

Downtime is good for everyone! It allows people to relax their minds and their bodies and prepare for what’s to come. For students that are introverts or natural people-pleasers, simply being with a group can create some stress and anxiety. So while adding social activities back onto the calendar, parents can also add in some quiet time in between that allows students to relax and decompress.

Apex Leadership Co. encourages parents, guardians and students to openly communicate about their feelings of re-entering social activities and situations now that many COVID restrictions have lifted. It’s vital, and will generally result in a more successful endeavor, if parents and their children are honest, open and on the same page.