Parenting Education and Learning Child Psychology and Behaviour

COVID-19: Impact of Social Isolation on Children & How Can You Help

Nitin
1 to 3 years

Created by Nitin
Updated on Jun 30, 2020

Reviewed by Expert panel

In the wake of Coronavirus, the government has posted several new order challenges for families. Parents have a work-life extension through work-from-home minus the interpersonal social interactions, but for a child, it’s a completely new realm. Preschools, Daycares & schools are shut, and they are not allowed to go out and play in the open. While this may not seem to be a big concern at initial stages, social isolation or social distancing (absence of social contact) is tough for the child, especially for a child between 2 to 11 years of age.

In Wake of Coronavirus Social Isolation or Social Distancing

Now new challenges for parents are - How does social isolation affect health? What does isolation do to a person? How does social isolation affect the brain? Why is isolation dangerous? Here, in this blog, we are discussing two key aspects of social distancing...

  1. How does social isolation impact your child and 

  2. How can you help your child adapt to it and ensure they're well being

What Does Social Interaction Mean For A child? 

It’s how a child interacts with another child or an adult. It’s just not verbal communication for a child, but also includes body language, gestures, playing together, sharing, doing an activity together and more. 

Why Is Social Interaction Important for Children 

Social skills are a key part of a child’s development, and play a significant role in how they would go on to interact with others as children and later on as adults. Good Social interactions have physical and mental benefits for a child, including cognitive development, good mental health, communication skills, independence, and improved physical health, especially as the child grows into an adult. A child with good social skills has healthier relationships, meaningful interactions, empathy, and camaraderie in group settings. Early Years learning has Social skills as a key development area as it also impacts language skills, creativity and confidence in a child. Preschools are known to foster this positively in children. Preschools and Primary years are crucial for social skill development in children, perhaps much more than academic learning. 

Agewise Milestones for Social Skills 

The following are agewise social skill milestones for your child...

Child Age Social Skill Milestones
2-3-year-olds Should be able to seek attention from others and initiate social contact with greetings like namaste, hello, hi, bye. Should be able to look at the person who’s talking, and talk by taking turns- one at a time.
3-4-year-olds They should be able to take turns when playing games with their friends, play with a toy and initiate verbal communication with actual words, or a combination of words.
4-5-year-olds Are able to collaborate with peer groups, make requests like ‘stop’, ‘don’t’, ‘please’. Talk and chat a lot and pretend-play at this stage.
5-6-year-olds Are able to show feelings and say, ‘I am sorry’, ‘Please’, and ‘Thank You’. Show early signs of reasoning and bargaining. I can play cognitive games and understand the fair play and foul play.

How Does Social Isolation/Distancing Impact Children?

When a child faces Social Isolation, it can impact various aspects of their mental, physiological and social development. The impact of Isolation affects a child depending on whether it is for short term or long term. While the long term social isolation is not at all good for a child, parents can have a plan to understand and tackle the impact of short term social isolation on their child. Read the effects of short term social isolation(less social contact) on children.

  1. Mental Stress: A child’s body has an active stress response and when subjected to short term social isolation (a week or more), can show early signs of this stress, which in turn can also affect their health and appetite. 

  2. Brain Development: Lack of social interactions hamper brain development, especially in the early years, from 1 to 5. What makes this challenging for the parent is that this is not manifested easily by the child. 

  3. Social Support: Isolation for a child leads to an active stress response, where the body and the mind try to avoid any harm to it, and this is the time that the child may yearn to reach out for social support, a contact or a friend to talk to and feel better. 

  4. Physiological: Social isolation means to play on one’s own, and that limits the child’s movement and physical development. As a result, the child loses on active hours and there is a reduction in playtime. 

What Can Parents Do For Social Wellbeing in Corona Times 

What Can Parents Do in Corona Times For Social Wellbeing of Their Child...  

  1. Plan Frequent Social Interactions: Though it may sound counter-intuitive, this is one of the most important things to do. Start by creating a plan, which includes social interactions every few hours; every 3 hours for your child. This could include your playtime with your child, in case you are at home. 

  2. Playdates With Safety Precautions: Get together with your building friends or your relatives close by and plan these together. You can take all the precautions and plan these playdates at each other’s homes. You don’t need a large group of kids to organize this. You can even do this by planning a playdate with any one of your child’s peer groups. Keep it to no more than 4 at a time. 

  3. Storytelling & Story Reading Time: Create a daily fix time for storytelling and story reading sessions with your child. Bring in drama, creativity and keep it open for your child’s creativity and drama. [Know More to Engage Child Through Storytelling]

  4. Shorter Outdoor Playtime In Smaller Groups: It’s easier said than done, but it would be ideal if your child doesn't go outdoors. In case that's not possible, you can tie up with some of your building's fellow parents to take turns at monitoring the outdoor playtime. Some things you can all agree to do.

    • Keep the outdoor playtime shorter and smaller groups. Ideally, keep it to a group of 5 or lesser.

    • Share the rules of the game with children in terms of sanitizing the hand before and after playing and not touching their face during playtime 

    • Ideally, the adult monitoring the playtime should carry a sanitizer and offer it to each child as and when they feel the need & moderate when need be

    • Pre-agree to not send your child to play, if your child has cold or cough

  5. Video calls with friends and classmates: For once, given these times, I would advise some Screen time for your child daily with their friends and let them interact and talk to each other. You could bring a theme to such video interactions, like singing a rhyme together with friends. Preschools and Schools are doing digital classes, and I would recommend you to let your child attend these. Prepare their school tiffin like you did when they went to school, while they attend these classes for them to get a similar interpersonal feel while having their food.

  6. Bring in Social interactions In Your Child’s Daily Time table: Create a time table for your child’s daily routine on a sheet and paste it on the wall, or put it on the whiteboard. Make sure that you have at least one social interaction (in person or through a video call or a phone call) every 3-4 hrs for your child. The duration of such a social interaction could be anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes.

Conclusion

While long term social isolation has adverse effects on a child’s social development, you can tackle short term social isolation challenges, which are going to continue because of Coronavirus. Go ahead, connect with your neighbors and buildings’ fellow parents, discuss and create a thought through intervention together. 

Please feel free to reach me and the parentune team anytime and we’ll do our best to watch out for you and your child. I am sure that you will take this as a priority item and shall ensure your child’s mental, physical and social wellbeing in Corona times with these tips. Together, we will!

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

1. nia.nih.gov › news › Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks
2. apa.org › monitor › 2019/05 › It could kill you - American Psychological

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| Mar 19, 2020

I have also been trying creative writing and story telling sessions with my children and it is really working well. Very useful information. thanks for sharing!

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| Mar 19, 2020

shikha - share some tips with us or your blog links in comments, would be very useful for fellow parents.

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| Mar 19, 2020

Here is a DIY blog with few ideas on crafts for children. Parents can involve their children using Innovative methods by making use of their creativity. Blogs-https://www.parentune.com/parent-blog/4-art-and-craft-diy-ideas-for-your-child/1204

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| Sep 18, 2020

Your post content is being interested by a lot of people, I am very impressed with your post. I hope to receive more good articles. paper io 2

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