5 tips for helping your kids adjust to physical distancing

Help your kids adjust to physical distancing with these 5 tips.
Mother and small child doing yoga

Finding a new normal as we all adjust to COVID-19 physical distancing and shelter-in-place protocols is difficult for everyone, not least of all for those of us with children. As a parent, you likely have the added challenge of balancing your daily activities while supervising your kids at home. When routines are disrupted due to unexpected circumstances, kids can experience unfamiliar, scary emotions like stress, anxiety, and fear. Physical distancing, in particular, can bring up big feelings as children feel the sting of isolation just as much, if not more, than adults do. As these transitions start to pile up, things can get overwhelming pretty quickly, for both you and your children.

Here are some tips you can use today to support your kids in thriving during this challenging experience. Plus, they’ll help you stay grounded and productive, as well.

  1. Be reassuring
    You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t feeling at least some stress and anxiety right now. Your first instinct may be to shelter your children from what’s going on in the world. While it may seem like protecting them from this knowledge will keep them from being afraid, the opposite may be the case. Calm communication about what’s happening may help your kids feel more at ease and can make this new normal feel less scary. Don’t be afraid to be honest about how you’re feeling and what you’re doing to handle those feelings; that will demonstrate for your kids healthy ways to cope with uncomfortable emotions. Not sure where to start? The CDC has helpful guidelines for talking with your children about the coronavirus.

    Try this: Have a family meeting and ask each of your kids to take turns explaining what the coronavirus is. Keep it light as much as possible, but fill in any information gaps they may have.

  2. Keep up with routines and schedules
    Life is anything but typical right now. Sticking to existing family routines can help your kids have an easier time coping with shelter-in-place protocols. To build structure in your home, the CDC recommends using the three “ingredients” below:
    • Consistency: doing the same thing every time
    • Predictability: expecting or knowing what is going to happen
    • Follow-through: enforcing the consequence

    When your children know what to expect from each day, they tend to feel safer and more protected, and routines may help promote their health and overall well-being.

  3. Set up online playdates
    While physical distancing pretty much limits all in-person playdates regardless of where they usually occurred, that doesn’t mean that your kids can’t see their friends. Children need social interaction just as much as adults do, so it’s worth getting together with other parents to schedule virtual play dates to help combat loneliness and lack of stimulation.

    Try this: Have everyone pick one fun activity that they can do together over a video call. Not only will this help kids focus on something more positive, but it may also make them feel included and safe.

  4. Make family time more fun
    Getting inventive with how to spend your family time will help ease the burden of burnout. Try to make plans that are outside the norm of what you might normally do on a regular basis. Find a kid-friendly recipe to cook together, learn a new skill, or make crafts from things you have around the house. When family time is fun, your children will be more engaged, and keeping busy on a stimulating project can help reduce stress and anxiety.

    Try this: Our Wellvolution programs can help you find new ways to get fit as a family, and we’ve put together more tips for developing offline, health-conscious habits with your kids.

  5. Prioritize time alone
    We recommend everyone in the household take some personal time to recharge and decompress. That might be carving out time for a bath, enjoying a game of fetch with the dog in your backyard, or breaking out some reading after the kids have gone to bed. Prioritizing everyone’s well-being can help the whole family cope while we’re safe indoors

    Try this: Block out alone time every day during a set time. This will help young kids know what to expect and give older kids comfort in knowing they’ll get to retreat into their “zones” as well.

Finally, a good family meal around the table is a good way to help kids stay healthy and engaged. Here are a few ways to include more fun around the dining table.