How is your child feeling about socialising again with their friends? Having spent over two months within our family bubbles, the thought of being thrust back in to socialising with others might leave some of us feeling rather anxious. Forget ‘FOMO’, emerging from lockdown restrictions has some of us feeling ‘FOGO’ (the fear of going out). Whether your child is returning to their educational setting or you’re just beginning to slowly return to more social interactions, we held an Instagram Live last week to share some ideas on how you can help prepare your child for this.
Try and take opportunities to reassure your child that it’s ok to feel nervous and unsure about seeing their friends again - which is very much the feeling you would associate with FOGO. Remind them that they’ve been at home for a long time with the same people, so feeling a bit strange about spending time with lots of different people is completely understandable. Resist the well-meaning urge to say ‘Don’t be silly’ or ‘You’ll be fine’. Try and find ways to reassure your child without dismissing the feelings they have shared with you.
Ease back into it
Try and make the transition back into socialising a smooth and gradual one. Rather than going full pelt with a packed social diary to make up for the last two months, think about giving your child time to adjust slowly.
Communication is not just speaking
After any long break we often feel like we’ve forgotten how to do the things that came easily to us before. Your child might feel like they’ve forgotten how to socialise with their friends. Remind them that interacting with others is not just based on talking; communication and connection is also based on listening. Your child might feel like they have nothing interesting to say, remind them to listen as well and enjoy just being in the company of others. It’s also easy to forget the power of a good question; as well as preparing your child with things they want to tell their friends and teachers about, help arm your child with one or two good questions to ask too.
Help normalise any fear and anxiety your child (or you) might have. Discuss how that anxious feeling is there to help protect you and is preparing you for action! When we do something we’re not sure about, our bodies are keeping us on high alert to keep us safe. Once your child understands this, it can help stop the vicious circle of worrying about worrying. They begin to recognise the feeling without judging it negatively.
Following any form of socialising, our children are likely to be drained and have very big emotions. We should prepare ourselves for this ‘social hangover’ they might experience and think about what they might need; more sleep, extra downtime, understanding and empathy from other family members…
No doubt your child is excited to see their friends again after such a long time at home. Let them know that it’s normal to feel both excited and nervous at the same time. We all might feel a little FOGO over the next few weeks and that’s completely normal.
Louise’s Instagram Live on this topic can be found here.
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