Helping Your Child Reintegrate Into Post-COVID Society

COVIDSummer fast approaches, and with it comes a major development: society has begun the process of reopening. Millions of people have taken advantage of one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Many businesses have reopened, resulting in more people getting back out in the world.

When the pandemic began over a year ago, most people felt a sense of panic. No one had experienced this kind of event before. They did not know what to expect or how to behave. Many also felt unprepared for the emotional impact of social distancing and becoming hermits within their own homes.

While lamenting the lack of social activities, most people dreamed about things getting back to normal. Now that the country has shifted towards fully reopening, many people find themselves unsure how to proceed. With planning and patience, we can all successfully reintegrate into our communities.

Let Your Child Know It’s Fine to Feel Conflicted About Societal Reintegration

Children of all ages likely voiced their exciting plans for what they would like to do and where they’d like to go once relaxed rules for socialization began. Now that reintegration has started, many kids find themselves experiencing some fear. Reintegration is comparable to riding a new roller coaster. Though they might be excited, uncertainty and scary feelings can arise when they step up to the ride.

Talk to your child about what emotions they find themselves experiencing. Let them know that everyone feels a bit of trepidation as they move into the summer. People are out of the habit of shopping in malls, dining out, and enjoying recreational activities in public places. After a year of so much solitude, no one should expect to transition back without any emotional fallout.

The Importance of Maintaining Boundaries

Many businesses have relaxed their rules related to the pandemic. Some stores and dining establishments no longer require that patrons wear masks. Some leave it up to customers if they want to remain a minimum amount of feet apart. As the risk of contracting the coronavirus lessens, relaxed social distance guidelines will become more common.

This development does not mean that everyone has to throw out all precautions. If your child still wants to wear a mask in certain situations, let them know that’s fine. Discuss as a family which situations you feel that adhering to the standard pandemic rules might still feel practical. You might make decisions about where to eat out based on what rules the restaurant enforces.

One of the biggest things people missed during the past year is the ability to hug and kiss their loved ones. The painful loss of human touch proved palpable for many. Let your child know that they still have autonomy about with who they have physical contact. They may not be comfortable yet giving hugs, accepting kisses, or holding hands. Tell them they are within their rights to establish that boundary with others.

Let your child know that you will back them up about their decisions. Their comfort levels top those of well-meaning relatives and friends. If a child feels too shy to speak up, step in for them. For example, a parent can say, “My son/daughter isn’t comfortable yet with hugging. I’m sure you understand.” Stand firm if anyone questions this decision.

Planning for Summer Vacations

Many people count getting to go on vacation again as one of the best parts of society starting to reintegrate. Before deciding on a destination, do your homework. If your child expresses fear about going to crowded theme parks or beaches, be respectful of their feelings.

Keep abreast of scientific data and reliable news sources for guidance. Look for low-risk places families can visit this summer. Whereas your family might normally head for a place packed shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists, consider alternative plans for this first vacation. For example, national and state parks offer plenty of ways to enjoy nature while keeping a safe distance from crowds.

Renting an RV gives a family a hotel room and restaurant on wheels. An RV can provide a feeling of safety and privacy for a nervous child. If a destination can be reached by car, consider driving as an alternative to the cramped conditions of flying. When your child knows their parents have the family’s health and comfort levels at the forefront of their minds, they may be more likely to relax and enjoy the trip.

Provide Information in an Age-Appropriate Manner

Staying updated about COVID-19 can be a double-edged sword. Adults often find they have to strike a balance between staying educated and being swallowed up by fear. This balancing act applies to children, too.

Your child likely relies on you to know the latest developments about the coronavirus. Young minds – even those of a teenager – can still run wild. Open a dialogue with them about this. Let them know you won’t make any decisions about their activities until you know the facts. Make sure they know they can come to you with any questions or concerns. Together the family can ease their way into reintegration.

A year ago, we all thought we’d feel nothing but joy as the time finally came to reintegrate into society. Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has become a widespread effort, the country is starting to reopen. Many people are finding their kids are experiencing some fear and hesitation about this. Talk to your kids about their right to set boundaries, accurate and current information, and safe summer vacations. Sustain Recovery has spent the past year helping our clients deal with their addictions and stress from COVID-19. If your child struggles with addiction to alcohol or drugs, our long-term program can help. We also treat co-occurring mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Sustain Recovery has an excellent track record for dealing with teenagers and adolescents who did not thrive with other treatment programs. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to find out how we can make this the summer that turned your child’s life around.