Ask Ms. Gail

“Reading Kids’ Behavior: How Children Communicate Stress and How We Can Help

Q: What things should parents be looking out for that would show us that our kids are having trouble adapting to the lack of socialization and what can we do to help them?

Children are great at “telling/showing” us when something is wrong. Adults frequently misread these signs as just bad behavior.

Some things to look for: extreme changes in behavior such as sleeping problems (too much, too little, nightmares), eating habits (again eating too much or not wanting to eat), being over clingy, seeming overly sad, anxious, angry.  Crying more than normal or withdrawn. Really, any change in behavior that makes an adult say “Hmm, this isn’t like him/her,” that lasts more than a couple days.

Some ideas are of course using technology to connect with other people. Even just a phone call can be very powerful. Have them write letters/draw pictures for family and friends. Remember getting “real” mail? How exciting it was?! Also, this is a great learning experience.  If you need stamps, at some point, at least one person in the household is going out for something, make a quick stop at the post office. Walk to a mailbox and drop off. Send notes to school for teachers. They will get them eventually and love them!

If there is more than one child in the home, make sure they are spending time apart. Having them always together will make things more difficult.  “Absence makes the heart grow fonder!”

Frequently remind your children they will see their friends again, that you know this is hard, how much you miss your friends… As crazy as it sounds, young children may believe this is how life will be from now on (they have no concept of time) and that is scary!

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