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One mental health counselor says there are ways to improve socializing during the pandemic

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(KWWL) - Whether it's in-person or online, students and teachers may have their social skills tested this year.

With students either staying home or going to school with masks on, MercyOne mental health counselor, Anthony Michael said masks and screens will create hardships, but there are ways to make this rough patch a little easier.

"They're going to be wearing masks, so they're not going to get all the social cues that we normally would see," Michael said, "nobody's going to know you're struggling, unless you verbalize it."

According to Michael, 97% of our communication skills are not verbal. Therefore, to compensate for that 3%, it's important kids do the following:

  • become self-advocates
  • use their words
  • make their concerns known at the start of each day
  • knowing emotions through peoples' eyes

Michael told "KWWL" these tips also apply to remote learners, especially not having that one-on-one learning. He also urges parents to understand their child will experience fatigue through online learning. Therefore, it's important to have their own workspace, as well as have broken up breaks throughout the day.

These 'new normals' will take time to adjust to, but Michael believes it's important adults model this behavior as much as possible, to make this transition easier for kids.

"So if you're out going to a store, or going somewhere with your mask on and you're with your child, making sure you're letting them know why you're using your words like ,'oh they couldn't see I was waiting in line so I have to let them know, the idea of modeling that as adults is super important."

Even though this is a major shift, Michael said positives will come out of this believing kids and adults will improve their cognitive flexibility, as well as their adaptation skills.

Michael admits this will be a process of trial and error, but it's important to have patience with the process.

"Nobody has ever gone through this before, there is no perfect way to do this," Michael said, "it's going to be a work in progress."

For more information or resources, click here.

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Alaina Kwan

Morning Reporter

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