My school-age child already seems to really be missing her friends at school. How can I help her?

I have great news!!! We can still help our children build their social-emotional skills during a time when we are being asked to practice “social distancing”. In my line of work, I almost wish we could call it “physical distancing”, because it does not mean we have to stop communicating or even socializing.

My daughter, now seventeen, and I were talking about how much she is missing her friends at school just the other day. The weather was nice and we had been inside for two days straight. I asked my daughter to drive my husband and I to take us sightseeing. She chose to drive to Wolfeboro and I was glad to be able to go through the town and down roads that I did not even know existed. My husband offered to sit in the backseat and put together amazing cheese and cracker sandwiches with a touch of pepper jelly and we all TALKED.

The entire time that car was moving, we covered all sorts of topics. But, the one that stood out to me most was the “old school” way of communicating for my husband and I. We told her about how lucky she is to have a phone that can literally allow you to talk to someone face to face. When my husband and I were first dating we would only see each other on the weekends because we lived in different towns about a half hour drive away. The first month that we dated, we were on the phone nonstop…then came the phone bill. Needless to say, that was when we realized that we would have to limit the amount of time we would get to talk to each other during the week.

I share this because it makes me realize how differently this generation communicates from even my own and those before me. If your children are like mine, they despise the idea of talking on the phone and would highly prefer to text and interpret the meaning behind the many memes, shorthand (LOL) and pictures they share. This means that most of their actual peer physical and talking communicative interactions were coming from school, sports, childcares and any other groups that they were a part of. This is what they are now missing so much.

With guidance, we can help them through this! Here are a few things to try:

  • There is a program called “Messenger Kids” that was created for children to be able to video chat each other with parent/guardian set limitations. This is the link to read more about this app: Messenger app. Remember that it is still important to monitor and limit while your child is using this or any other media platforms.
  • Help your children write letters (or draw pictures) to their friends. If they live close enough, deliver their letter to their front door. If they are farther away, mail it to them. Prompt them to ask their peer a question that they would like an answer back from them on.
  • Try having your child call a loved one (prep the “loved one” ahead of time to ask questions to avoid the silent moments). If they are comfortable with that process, then prompt them to call a friend from school.
  • Eat together at the table as much as you possibly can! Make these sit-down times a priority and do not allow any distractions during this face to face time. (No phones, tablets, televisions, etc.) For some families, this is going to be a change, but I can tell you it is one of the best times to have amazing family conversations. Be sure to avoid negative topics or topics that only the “grown ups” should be discussing. Here is a link to get some question ideas going: 31 Questions for Kids .
  • Create a game where you and your children can write down a communication-based question (i.e.- If you had to choose one person to talk to from any time period, who would it be and what would you want to talk about with them?) to answer OR a communicating task (i.e.- Create a play with sock puppets that shows how you feel when you do something nice for someone else.) to complete as a family. Put as many of these ideas into a jar that you can think of and set up a time during the day that you pull one from the jar and complete as a family.
  • Actively LISTEN. Be sure that when your child is opening up about something, you are listening to them. Hold back as much as you can from adding your own opinion or parameters to the topic. Remember that right now, you are trying to help your child navigate through missing their interactions with their peers. So, if they want to talk for 20 minutes about why they think bananas should be bright pink instead of yellow…listen and enjoy these moments!

If you have tried any of these ideas or some of your own that have worked for your family, PLEASE SHARE with us on the Facebook threadthat brought you here today. Remember that we are all unique and communicate in so many ways. We are also human and that means we are wired to be together even during times when “social distancing” is necessary. So, let’s get our executive functioning skills flowing and come up with ways that we can still communicate while keeping a “social distance”!

Have you thought of a question you would like me to address? Be sure to send it to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your name will not be shared if it is a highlighted question on our sites, so do not hold back on what you want ask. Remember that we are all in this together and that I am here for you.

Miss Heather