As parents we want to be able to set our children up for success, whether that’s emotionally, financially, mentally, or with healthy friendships. We want our kids to have a vibrant and joy filled life. It’s important that our children learn positive communication skills in order to be able to cultivate healthy relationships with the people that will come into their lives.
As always, the best form of education for your child is what they see from you. When they see you as the parent modelling healthy friendships with open communication and boundaries, they will in turn understand what relationships should look like. That said, life can be tough and sometimes we as adults aren’t up to par on our communication skills either. That’s ok, we all have those days. Which is another important lesson to teach your kids. That sometimes, even in our relationships with others, we make mistakes. But it’s where we go from there that determines whether or not we are maintaining healthy friendships.
There’s this huge misconception about homeschooling.
Many people still believe that homeschooled children are not socialized, or not as socialized as children who go to school. Which in turn would make them less capable of maintaining healthy friendships and wholesome relationships. But, that’s not true! In fact, in a lot of cases, homeschooled children are sometimes more socialized than their peers who go to ‘real school’. How could that possibly be? Well, check out this blog from Lindsey about Socialization and homeschool: “Let’s Talk About Socialization”
In a normal world (pre pandemic) a homeschooled child had the opportunity to socialize and have fun with their peers just as much as children in traditional school. But, given the fact that we’ve been in a global pandemic for nearly two years. All children are truly lacking in the social category right now. Not being able to see friends and family has caused many children to struggle with their relationship building and maintaining skills. They still have the digital side of friendship, but realistically, seeing someone on a screen could just never replace the valuable time spent in the presence of their friends and loved ones.
Our children will always have tough times with their friendships, and relationships that sometimes get severed. But even those bumps in the road are vital to our children learning about how to maintain healthy friendships. All these things have generally been put on pause until things get back to some form of normal.
Most kids are truly out of practice when it comes to figuring out relationships (and adults are too). So, what are some steps we can take to help our kids after the pandemic to rebuild friendships, and utilize their friendship making tools to be able to get back on the healthy friendships wagon?
According to Very Well Family, you can try these activities once life gets back to some form of normal:
- Join School Sponsored Activities and Study Groups (Or a local homeschool group). These opportunities will help your child reconnect with their classmates (or homeschool buddies). Check out outdoor activities that they can do with their peers, like soccer, baseball, basketball, golf etc.
- Take your kids to the playground! Playgrounds are a breeding ground for friendships! And if your child learns healthy friendships skills (they’ll be one step ahead).
- Let your child play online games with friends (while we wait for the world to officially open up). Whether your child uses a game console, or maybe sets up a Zoom call. Playing together (even online), will help your child with their communication skills, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. And, once it’s safe to do so – they can play in real life again!
- Reach out to parents of children you already know. (Or better yet, have your child do it) Make plans for your kids to ride bikes, or scooters together. Do scavenger hunts, hikes, and the list goes on and on! Having a fun, planned activity to do together can really help the kids with easing back into a healthy friendship. (Being sure to follow all local social distancing guidelines).
- Reassure your child that it’s totally normal to feel kind of awkward when they start to socialize in person again. Let them know they aren’t alone, maybe you’re feeling that way too?
Remember to be patient with your child, and remind them to be patient with themselves also. Relationships can be tricky, and it’s important for them to know when a friendship isn’t healthy and how to either improve it, or walk away. Listen to your child when they voice their concerns and frustrations. Be present, try to understand where they’re coming from. And, guide them to make healthy choices with their relationships.
If you need more pointers on how to help your child with their relationships, check out the ‘Healthy Friendships’ mini unit. There are tons of activities in this excellent mini unit, to help your child with things like: Conflict resolution, How to apologize, and more.
For an excellent read on children’s friendships during the time of COVID-19, check out ‘How Kids Make and Keep Friends’ by VeryWell Family.