Feb 28
February 28th, 2022

Help and Support for Social Situations 

We have known for months that social interactions amongst our youth have suffered during the pandemic. The subtle erosion of regular social interaction and what that might mean for children in the long run has been asked often. 

School is not just a place where children learn academics. It’s how they learn to get along, navigate and negotiate with their same age peers. The social spaces of online school — a Zoom call here, a Google Meet there, Messenger Kids, looks a lot different than the hallways, lunchrooms, and playground of in-person school. At school, in these typical places children learn how to share, follow rules, and solve complex problems. 

Over the past two years, our children have not has the opportunity to develop these skills as we would have hoped. There is so much learning that happens when kids socialize. 

By being around peers, children develop executive functioning skills. Those include things like impulse control, the ability to hold multiple thoughts simultaneously, and the mental flexibility to solve nuanced problems. These executive functioning skills aid the development of traditional academic skills like numeracy and literacy. These skills don’t just develop in a vacuum, they develop in the context of being in situations where you have to interact with your peers. 

There has never been this kind of widespread interruption to social life as the last two years. Most of our kids will be fine, they will likely struggle, but, they will make it. They’ll find ways to recover what’s lost with the help of parents, teachers, and their natural resiliency. This is where we need your help, our children do need your help, understanding and awareness. They need conversation and expectations from parents that align with expectations from school and the larger social community. Keep your hands to yourself, be kind, share, listen carefully, take your turn, wait patiently, take a deep breath and try to regulate your emotions.  

I am hearing too often from parents when we make those difficult calls home - “my child has never done that before, or, this has never happened before”. Yes true, because we have never spent so much time on-line, locked down and away from others. This does have an impact and we are seeing this impact every day at CJP.  

What can you do? Spend time with your child. Talk to your child about expectations. Listen to what your child is telling you. Don’t respond or react, just listen and help them problem solve. Always ask your child what they did, what their responsibility in this situation is, what they could have done differently. We shouldn’t listen to stories about the “other guy”, that isn’t helpful, no one can change the “other guy” and we at school can’t speak to you about the others, only your own. We can impact our own child. Our kids are amazing, they simply need time, attention, and great coaching. Thank you for your help. 

Have a great weekend - Enjoy the warmer temperatures!

Dr. Bettesworth


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