I hear a common theme in my cases recently. “I don’t want to talk to my friends after being on Zoom school all day”. “I can’t talk to anyone in school wearing a mask”.
Kids are feeling alone and isolated whether they are attending school in person or not. Recently, a talented girl I treat reported that she would not join the theater club next year. I asked why she simply said, “I don’t think I can get up in front of people any longer”.
In addition, many children are also dealing with two homes and feuding parents. In a recent court-ordered case, the therapeutic struggle is social isolation and emotional discomfort going back and forth from each home. This child reports not being able to acclimate in either home while his parents are at war and he can’t use school and extracurricular activities as his “safe space”.
This got me thinking about how to counsel and proceed therapeutically. During the last year, the therapeutic trajectory was to keep the range of emotions children were experiencing contained as there were limited ways for them to move forward during a global pandemic. I labeled this to parents as a “holding pattern therapeutically”. The focus was to meet the child where they were, and hold them there until life opened up again and therapy could proceed with a higher level of likely success.
As spring has sprung, a year has come and gone and we’re not out of the woods yet. However, there is a light starting to come through the thick brush. Programs under CDC guidance are starting to report that they will be open this summer. This summer, more than any other, children will benefit from being desensitized from the isolation of not being around others. Yes, it will take work on our part as parents to find these programs and experiences, but it has never been more important.
What can I do this Summer to Help My Children Adjust?
Summer vacation is often twelve weeks or more for our children. It is very helpful to print a blank calendar for June, July, and August. Paste it to a piece of poster board and place it in a common area such as the kitchen. This will allow your children the visualize what their summer can look like as well as how long it will be. Start putting scheduled events in and as you commit to programs, add those.
Remember 12 weeks is not much time to get our children back to the emotional and social growth lost over the last year. It is, however, a start and we certainly can all agree we need to ensure our children go back to school in the fall able to focus on their academic’s full force with other obstacles.
About Shana Schwartz MSS, LCSW
Shana Schwartz MSS, LCSW provides individual and family counseling, parent consultation, school consultation, and parent coordination services. She has specialty areas in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, depression, behavioral and adjustment disorders.
Ms. Schwartz holds additional post-graduate training in Mindfulness, Parent Coordination, Mediation, Custody, and Collaborative Divorce. The focus of her work in each of these practice areas is “Putting Your Children First”.
Click here to learn more about Shana Schwartz MSS, LCSW