Lockdown Loneliness – 10 ways to Maintain Kids Lockdown Friendships

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

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Show notes:

In this episode:

Lockdown Loneliness – 10 ways to Maintain Kids Lockdown Friendships

How Fun and Games Help Children Thrive

Why Getting Outside Is Good for Your Child’s Anxiety, Frustration & Mental Health

Listen to the Expert Interview


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It’s more than just a chance to have fun, play is serious business when it comes to a child’s health and development. From peek-a-boo to pat-a-cake and hide-and-seek to hopscotch, the many forms of play enrich a child’s brain, body, and life in important ways.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report, The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, explains how and why playing with both parents and peers is key to building thriving brains, bodies, and social bonds―all important in today’s world. Research shows play can improve children’s abilities to plan, organize, get along with others, and regulate emotions. In addition, play helps with language, math and social skills, and even helps children cope with stress.

Here’s ages & stages ideas to help.

Lockdown Friendships

Let’s face it small children don’t sit and chat… they play; they imagine, they mess around and then run about so getting them to stay in touch and stay connected is a difficult thing to do. It’s easier with older kids – but here are some ideas for all ages.

  1. Talk about friends.
  2. Zoom Class Calls with school pals
  3. Play at having playdates with toys and dolls.
  4. Make little videos for their friends on your phone.
  5. Virtual Sleepover – get the tents out (inside in this weather) and use your laptop to Zoom pals.
  6. Limit but allow – gaming for short periods with pals ( it’s a pandemic!)
  7. When lockdown is loosened – doorstep distance visits?
  8. Do a Time Tunnel music quiz or whatever quiz you fancy with friends
  9. Children can compete against their classmates in the online version of Mathletics.
  10. How about cooking or baking something together and chatting on Zoom as you both do it?

Letting your child use social media is a big step for any parent. Take small steps by creating a profile for your child on one of the following:

Yoursphere – a free online social network that is centered around safe and fun rewards-based interactive content and activities for children and young people up to the age of 18. It has features dedicated at guarding youth privacy and safety, such as its approach to verifying identities, requiring parental consent, performing predator checks as well as using technology and human oversight to monitor site activity.

KidzWorld – Kidzworld is a social community and Safe Kids Website where you can express your free-spirited self. Kids chat, play games, create a profile or get help with school work. Read game reviews, film news, and celebrity stuff.

Sue’s Answer

Boys need fresh air and plenty of exercise outside. It’s great to release tension, frustration and getting outside as a family is a great way to spend time together. ​ But what can you do outdoors while staying a safe distance from others during the COVID-19 pandemic? Think nature exploration!

Buy binoculars, or a magnifying glass and let him loose! Get him to help you set up an obstacle course – good for dexterity, balance, fun and fresh air – it’ll tire him out so he’ll sleep deeper and better too.

Natural light is good for mental health and eyesight.

Bringing out baby. Even infants and toddlers can play and learn in nature. If you will be in public areas like a park, it may be safest to keep them in a carrier or a stroller. If they are in your own private space, it’s fine to have them explore even more.

Nature sculptures can be built with twigs, leaves, cones, rocks and more by sticking the collected items into a play dough base. Notice what kind of patterns are created by different items. Or, let your child play in mud with old pots, pans, utensils, and household tools to develop senses and motor skills.

Bike or walk with the family while keeping your distance from others. If you have a child bicycle trailer or stroller, get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors with your baby. Describe what you see along the way to your baby or preschooler.  Use a lot of details to help them learn new words.

Take story time outside.  Grab a blanket, some books and find a shady spot to read ​with your child outdoors.  Pick books that talk about nature and help your child make connections.

Challenge older children & teens. Stay engaged with the outdoors as a family. Take advantage of this time to bond over games and activities you all enjoy.

Hold a nature scavenger hunt or start a nature collection.  Hunt for plants, trees, animals, and birds. Collect rocks, acorns, leaves or pinecones.  See how many items children can find on a list, or gather objects to add to a collection.

Leave a trail.  Organize with parents of your children’s friends to send kids on “secret spy missions.” One family goes on a walk with sidewalk chalk, drawing arrows and letters along the way to spell out a secret message. The other family must then follow the arrows along the way to record the letters in the message.

Use a ball. Kicking a football or playing catch together can be fine if you are apart from each other and avoid sharing sports equipment with others outside your household.

The benefits of being outside. Getting outside provides more than a fun break for children and teens. It is also good for their physical and mental health and development. Children and teens who spend time enjoying nature can be:

Physically healthier. Children play harder outdoors than indoors. Especially without the structure of preschool, school or afterschool activities, children especially need opportunities to move. More outdoor time is linked with improved motor development and lower obesity rates.

More engaged in learning. Playing outside promotes more curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Studies have found that children who spent more time in nature exploration had improved learning outcomes.

More positive in behaviour. Research has found that when children spent time in natural settings they had less anger and aggression. Impulse control also improves. This might be especially important when normal routines have changed for children.

Mentally healthier. Stress and depression are lower for all people who spend time in nature. Children show increased focus and reduced symptoms of for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


Take advantage of the healing power of play in nature—in your own garden or on a walk. Be sure to follow local public health guidelines about wearing masks​ and keep at least 6 feet from others not in your family. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser during and after your adventure.

Getting outdoors, being in nature, and moving our bodies is good for everyone!


The Can Do Kid’s Journal: Discover your Confidence Superpower is bursting with tried-and-tested activities that will empower children aged 7-11 with skills they need in this time of turbulence, change & uncertainty.

This fun filled illustrated journal is perfect for developing resilience, confidence and a growth mindset. It offers kids a multitude of engaging guided activities to help them make lots of small changes that will make a BIG difference in their day-to-day lives.

Don’t Stew – Ask Sue Parenting Q & A

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