By: Blessing Adedimeji Adeyanju.
Updated on April 7, 2020.
The outbreak of Covid-19 requires us to make some certain life adjustment. As adults, we know how important social relationship is, and we know what its absence can cost us. Despite the fact that self-isolation is required of us during this period, most adults still maintain their social relationships through social media platforms, telephone calls and short message service (sms) to avoid loneliness. Children in this critical period need to maintain their social relationships too, because, social relationships are central to human well-being (No Isolation, 2017). Just as adults, children need to maintain their social relationships for their mental wellbeing. Lack of social network can lead to feelings of loneliness. And loneliness has been linked to poor physical health, mental health, and poor personal wellbeing, with potentially adverse effects on communities (Snape, et al., 2018).
When children feel disconnected from important social relationships, they may experience feelings of sadness, malaise, boredom, and alienation (Mentalhelp, nd). These feelings are often dangerous to children’s mental health, and must be avoided or taken care of when noticed. Peer relations matter to children, and lonely children place as much importance on this as do other children (Ramsey, 1991). Despite the fact that some children tend to avoid school for many reasons, they still enjoy the social relationship that exists in school.
Much attention must be paid to children at this period, to ensure that they don’t feel lonely. Parents and guardians must understand that no one is immune to this feeling. Therefore children should not be left out of the desire to maintain social relationships. It is possible for children to be with family and still experience feelings of loneliness. You don’t have to be alone in order to suffer the negative effects of loneliness (workhealthlife, n.d). It is very common to feel a sense of isolation even when surrounded by people at events such as family get-togethers, office functions or even standing in the middle of a crowd in a jam-packed shopping centre (workhealthlife, n.d). Also, in a study conducted by Snape, et al. (2018) in order to know Children’s and young people’s experiences of loneliness, their result shows that the number of adults in the household had nothing to do with children’s feeling of loneliness. So, children may feel lonely even when they are with their family, because they feel that an essential aspect of their life is missing. This essential aspect of their life is the relationship that they have built during school terms.
Being disconnected from a vital social relationship may disrupt our daily functioning for a while, if not for a life time. We all have a social network that we don’t want to be disconnected from. Snape, et al. (2018) found out that their survey data from young people showed an increase in more frequent loneliness at around 12 years old, coinciding with the move to secondary school for many.
Snape, et al. (2018) found out that the number of children living in the household determines how likely a child will report feeling lonely. Children who lived in a household that contained three or more children were less likely to report feeling lonely than children who lived in a household that contained one child or two children. Furthermore, children with no siblings, or with fewer siblings will be more exposed to the risk of feeling lonely if not properly attended to.
Having examined how dangerous loneliness can be, Educateroyals is here to give you insight into how you can build and improve the quality of your children’s social relationship in order to eliminate loneliness in the face of Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are some hints to help strengthen the network of your children’s social relationship in the face of covid-19 pandemic.
USE DIGITAL DEVICES: The importance of digital devices this period cannot be over emphasized. Digital devices such as mobile phones and computers can build and strengthen the social relationships of children.
Encourage phone calls and text messages: When children hear their friends over the phone or receive texts from their friends, they have the feelings that they haven’t lost connections with their friends. This gives them hope that when they see, they will still be together. Calling his or her friends with your phone is an idea that should be supported this period. This can be done as often as you can afford the call tariff.
Encourage social media discussions: There are a lot of social media platforms that allows easy communication. For example, facebook, whatsapp, instagram, snapchat and skype e.t.c. These social media platforms allow children to see themselves over the phone. These platforms support making videos and taking pictures that can be forwarded to their friends. Again, when children see themselves over the phone, they have feelings that they haven’t lost connections with their friends.
GIVING CHILDREN MORE ATTENTION: During this period, parents should make themselves available to children. If parents makes themselves available by engaging them in different activities such as storytelling and playing of games, children will enjoy the fun and will less likely have the feeling of loneliness. Also, parents may have to answer so many questions. Some questions may be funny, but it shouldn’t be left unanswered. Children will cherish parents’ attention this period, and will feel happy if they are not ignored.
MAKE THEM AVOID TRIGGERS: Different things may trigger the feeling of loneliness among children. E.g sitting alone without being attended to by parents and watching other children play e.t.c might be a trigger for some children. For parents whose children trigger is sitting alone without being attended to, parents must make themselves always available in order to reduce the rate at which the trigger will lead to loneliness.
FINDING DISTRACTIONS: Children might want to engage in some strange activities that would keep them busy. Let them do it, if it’s not an activity that will be harmful to them and their family. They are only looking for things that would distract them from feeling lonely. Keeping busy is another way young people suggested that they distract themselves from feeling lonely and thinking too deeply about their situation. It is a way to avoid becoming lost in their own thoughts and feeling worse (Snape, et al., 2018).
Mentalhelp. (nd). Loneliness in young children. Retrieved from: http://www.mentalhelp.net
No Isolation. (2017). How does social isolation affect a child’s mental health and development? Retrieved from:http:// www.noisolation.com/global/research/how-does-isolation-affect-a childs-mental-health-and-development/
Ramsey, P.G. (1991). Making friends in school. New York: Teachers College press.
Snape, D., Manclossi, S., Hassell, C., Osborn,E., Martin, G., Sidney, L.,… Cochrane, A. (2018). Children’s and young people’s experiences of loneliness: 2018. Office for National Statistics. 1 – 42.
Workhealthlife. (n.d). Loneliness and the holiday season. Retrieved from: http://www.workhealthlife.com