Socially Distant Summer

It’s finally summer and kids and teens are ready for a much needed break. But, what does that break look like when they’re forced to remain physically distanced from friends and family? While local organizations are doing what they can to provide resources to help with that very question, parents are left struggling to give their kids a summer they’ll cherish, amidst the increasing stress of a pandemic and social unrest.

The most important thing to remember is that social distancing does not have to equal being alone. Finding creative ways to interact with friends and loved ones, while remaining safe and healthy, must continue being a top priority throughout the summer.

Different doesn’t mean worse.
For children and adolescents, parents and guardians can play a role in making sure this summer, while different, is still enjoyable. Continue having open dialogue with children about how they’re feeling and what they consider a priority right now.

For teens, spending time with friends without the stress of school is often the epitome of summer. Not being able to do that to the fullest will be difficult for children of all ages, but especially for teenagers who thrive on social interaction. Keep in mind, teens have already had to miss out on big life events like prom and graduation. Parents and guardians should be aware of this and open to conversations around the added stress that might bring. Michigan Health offers ways to help teens cope with a physically-distanced summer.

Continue to look out for signs of emotional distress during social distancing.
While all of these tools are helpful in making the most of a socially distant summer, emotional and mental health issues are still a very real possibility as children and teens continue to navigate an increasingly unfamiliar world compared to just a year ago. It can be hard to tell the difference between sadness and depression, especially for kids who may already experience normal ups and downs, but parents should keep an eye out for red flags that may point to symptoms of mental and emotional distress.

For immediate help, contact a local crisis hotline by dialing 211, calling (225) 924-3900 or texting NAMI to 741-741.

Now being offered virtually, professional counseling services during this time can be a great resource to ensure children and teens are equipped with the tools needed to cope. For more information on local resources, visit ■

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