Virtual learners are lonely, not “jerk”ish
I was walking with some great friends this morning and was reminded again that so much of what I share with YOU is also continually relevant for ME and my kids. Funny how that happens…
During the typical “how are your kids doing with the start of school” conversation, I was brought back to some moments I had with my tween when I had the thought in my head that she was being “rude” or “distant” or “withdrawn.” I didn’t say those things to her, but I definitely had defensive thoughts in my head like… “How DARE SHE?!”
Cue my recent podcast episode about calling our kids a ‘brat’. Cue my continued push for myself and other parents to use our words (and thoughts) for good. Cue my previous learning about child development and change resiliency.
And here’s where I landed. Here’s what I feel sure about. My kid (YOUR KID) isn’t being jerkish, or angry, or mean, or rude, or disrespectful. If your child is a virtual learner right now, chances are REALLY good that they are LONELY.
Here’s the thing. I have shared before that our kids are social beings, taught from an early age to “be a good friend” and “share with others.” They crave peer relationships – even the bad ones. They learn so, so many things from the interactions from same-aged peers.
And it goes without saying that being in a Zoom meeting with their peers is not at all like being in the same physical space with them. Remember how isolated, sad, depressed, irritable we felt during quarantine? Remember how amazing it was to be shoulder-to-shoulder with someone once we were able to get out and see friends again after quarantine? THAT’S what your kids are feeling and desiring to feel.
So how do we help?
If you think your child has been more irritable, withdrawn, moody, disrespectful, angry, grumpy, tired, “over it”, sad, or any other negative mood…LEAN in, not away from them. Come closer to them. Don’t force it, but keep trying. Have lunch together. Take a walk. Sit in a hammock. Talk to them about your own feelings of loneliness. Actually use the word lonely.
Tell them it’s okay to feel lonely.
It’s okay to feel sad.
It’s okay to grieve.
It’s okay to feel tired for no reason at all.
Because our ambiguity fatigue is real. Our change meter is worn out. Our ability to tolerate change and ambiguity may be next to nothing. And that is definitely NOT “I’m sad for no reason.” Those are all definitely reasons to feel all sorts of things.
That are not at all related to them being a jerk.
Love to all and extra hugs this week!
Stay well, friends – Beth