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Encouraging your child to spend time with others

We all know how strange the last few months have been. And the hardest thing for many of us has been the lack of contact with our friends and family. Many of us will have been grateful for phone calls and video chats, but it isn’t the same as seeing them in person.

This will have been especially tough for children and young people. They are still learning about and establishing friendships, and may have been quite lonely being separated from their friends.

It’s important that children start spending time with others again. Playing and spending time with their friends is a crucial part of all children’s development, no matter how old they are. However, some children may be feeling nervous about being with others after all this time. We have some advice if you are worried that your child is anxious about seeing people again.

What do I do if my child doesn’t want to spend time with others?

Children will have spent a lot less time around others these last few months. They’ll have had to entertain themselves and get used to playing on their own. It’s understandable that some might need a little help. Lots of children will be feeling the same, and the changes over the last few months will be hard for them to process. But there are things you can do to help make it easier for your child to start seeing people again.

In this short film, Cherie Morgan from Play Scotland explains how you can help reassure your child if they're anxious.

Tips to encourage them to meet others

Tip #1: Have a chat

Speak to your child about what is going on. Be positive about the changes that are happening and ask them what fun things they’re looking forward to. Ask them if they’ve any worries about seeing people again.

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Tip #2: Don’t dismiss their worries

Their concerns are valid. This is a strange and uneasy time. It’s okay for them to be unsure about seeing people after being told they couldn’t for months. Try to reassure them that others will be feeling the same as them and that it’s okay for them to be worried but that seeing people is important.

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Tip #3: Plan a playdate

You can arrange to meet one of their friends at the park. While the number of people we can see is limited at the moment, your child can still see their friends outside. If they’re nervous about seeing other people, making it a short playdate will be easier. Look at our page on outdoor restrictions and stick to the current guidance.

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Tip #4: Be positive

Your child’s main role model is you. If they see you being overly worried about being around others they may pick up on that. Try to be positive and as calm as you can when you’re seeing people, or are out and about in places like the park.

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What do I do if another parent is not following the rules?

Now that restrictions are tightening again, you and your children will be limited in what you can do. However, while some parents are strictly following the rules, others may not be. You may find yourself at odds with other parents who have a different attitude to you. You know what’s best for your child. Do what you’re comfortable with and don’t feel pressured into doing things against current restrictions. When we reduce our day to day contact with other people we reduce the spread of the virus.