Helping Your Children When Friendships Change
Hey, Heidi Rogers here with today's three minute parenting playbook.
I wanted to touch on the topic today of friendships and how they have changed over the year during the pandemic, and isolation, and homeschooling, and all of that. A lot of parents are saying to me that their kids are feeling just a bit anxious, worried, nervous about school, etc., because friendships have so drastically changed. Some kids caught up a lot, you know, if they were able to during the time, some kids didn't see anyone, some kids weren't joining in on the zoom calls, some kids were, they just feel kind of disconnected.
The first thing that you'll always hear me say, whenever your child comes at you with something that they're concerned about, is validate. Validate, and empathize with them, whatever it is that they're sharing with you that they're concerned about. You always want to make them feel that what they think is valid and real and you don't dismiss it, you don't minimize it, you don't try to fix it, you validate and empathize with them what's going on.
The first thing after you do that, after you do the validation, and empathizing is having a conversation with them that kind of explains that this is to be expected. Really normalize it that this is really normal, that me going back to work, it's going to be the same thing. I haven't seen these people I work with for such a long time, it's going to feel a little bit weird. So normalizing, kind of getting them to expect it, that there's going to be some stuff that's different. It might feel like it did the first day of school, at the beginning of the school year. It might feel a bit like that, where everyone feels a bit awkward and a bit funny, and that's okay, and everyone else is feeling that on the inside, right? They might not show it. But everyone else is feeling that. You don't have to feel weird if you feel like it just feels a bit odd that I don't really know, are we still friends? Are we not? Validate and explaine that that's to be expected.
Second thing is you want to be communicating to them that we can adapt, you always have, you've survived 100% of your days, haven't you? So you're going to get through this. We'll get through it. Because remember when you started kindergarten, remember when you started high school, remember when you started uni, whatever, you got through it. But at the beginning, it was a little tricky, because you didn't have any friends, you didn't know where you fit in. So remember that feeling at the beginning of the year, you might be having that feeling again now. But you know, because you've lived it and you've done it before: you can remind your brain 'No, I'll be okay. I actually, I know how to do this because I've done it before.' So remind them of that, that we can adapt.
The other really great opportunity, number three, that you can be teaching them right now is to be open to change. Change is a huge part of life. The brain hates change. The amygdala hates change, because it's threatening, and it makes it think we're unsafe and danger is coming, that you want to teach your kids in this moment. This is an opportunity to learn how to navigate change, tolerate change, tolerate uncertainty, and telling them that when we can be open to change and when we can be open to the constant fluctuating of life, it makes it a lot easier and there's a lot less suffering. So teaching them that concept.
Four: setting up scaffolding, like playdates are ways that you can support building friendships.
Five is validating again, and then six is celebrating past wins, which we kind of already covered. But you want to always be reminding them that 'you can do hard things. You've done this before. This isn't the first time you've had a tricky situation with friendships and remember how we did it then? Ah, that's right. Let's see how we can write some of those ideas down to help us navigate this new time where we're trying to navigate the friendship stuff.'
I hope that was helpful. There's a resource that goes with this that you can click below to watch and I'll see you next time.