If your child has to stay home from school this fall because of COVID-19, it may not be the worst thing in the world.
Doctor J.P. Shand, a psychiatrist at WellSpan Health in Ephrata, Lancaster County, believes parents often forget about their child's resiliency, and that they will adapt to almost any challenge in their way, even if it's having to stay away from their friends for a few more months.
"Social interaction with friends is only one way a child develops skills," Shand says. "It’s a valuable tool for sure, but it’s not the only tool."
Learning from home, he believes, is a minor adaptation for children. He cites the rise of social media as one example where adults thought kids' social development would struggle, then did not.
Dr. Shand recommended parents use a number of different ways to help foster social engagement in their children if schools are closed once again.
- Focus on social interactions with siblings and pets
- Read children books with themes centered on empathy and resilience
- Give a child extra responsibility to strengthen independence
- Don't be afraid to let your kids experience boredom
"That area is where creativity is really born," Shand said. "When we are structuring our kids every minute of every day, we have seen a lot of studies that demonstrate that actually kills creativity and resilience. So if you could have a child bathe in that boredom a little bit, you will start to help foster that child’s ability to use their creativity."
Shand also realizes this time is incredibly stressful on parents as well. However, showing a child that stress and anxiety could be more harmful, he suggests, than anything coming out of the lack of school.