These last few weeks during the pandemic I have been on social media way more than I am used to. While sifting through a variety of information and misinformation, I have noticed one clear theme that was directly affected because of the pandemic; human connection. It plays an important role in our lives and it seems obvious when you say it out loud. It’s significance is obvious, but something I think we have all been taking for granted.
Most people’s day-to-day lives revolve around human interactions. We sprinkle and mix in interactions with our friends and family between interactions with strangers. This was the norm until now. After a few weeks of social distancing, I am now realizing just how much it is needed and it’s something we need to teach our children about.
Children and adults experience human interaction in very similar ways. The one main difference may be interactions on gaming, YouTube, and apps. As an elementary classroom teacher I have noticed my students prefer to interact with technology and through technology rather than face to face. The allure of that is losing its luster since that’s our main source of interaction for now. This young generation hasn’t known a life without communication and interacting using technology so they really lack the necessary skills to build those meaningful human connections outside of the realm of technology. Schools have been trying to adapt to this by incorporating Social Emotional Learning in their classrooms with themes on communication and peer relationships but it needs to be reinforced at home too.
As a parent this can be a struggle because it’s not one of those universal milestone teachings we are used to, like manners. We assume kids can do this on their own, and they can, but the necessary tools need to be taught and modeled by parents.
It’s important for your child to know that there are different times and ways to connect with different people. Connecting to others safely through technology is one main thing we focus on. We don’t want to discourage using technology. Video chat, social media, and texting is the main way to stay connected to people who aren’t near us right now. However, your child needs to see that when they are in a close proximity to others technology isn’t necessarily the way to connect. They need to learn that putting technology away and giving someone your full attention is important and beneficial for your relationship. This will help improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills as well as spark new ideas and creativity.
It’s important to teach kids how to ask questions to other people so they can get to know them. This is a huge part of human connection, and a learned skill that can be properly modeled by an adult. As a parent you should set aside time to do this. If you feel stuck and are not sure where to start there are conversation starter cards you can use to help guide you and your family.
These skills and the understanding of importance will hopefully lead them to creating deep and meaningful relationships in their lives that they cherish and contribute to in a postivtie way. We want our children to be able to turn to someone else in a time of need and lean on them for support. We want our children to be the shoulder for someone else to cry on. We want our children to know that isolating isn’t the answer and human connection is. You are never too old or young and it’s never too late to connect with others. Now more than ever, that is something we should truly see.