I’m noticing that children who were born shortly before the pandemic are taking longer to warm up to me than the 2-year-olds I’ve seen prior to “these unprecedented times”. So I’m implementing the same rules I use for children who are demonstrating signs of anxiety, such as those with selective mutism: talking is rewarded, but not required. When the kids use their words they get positive reinforcement (verbal praise, access to a toy, a sticker, or even a high-five), but I don’t tell them to “say” anything.
A great way to create a safe space for kids who are feeling anxious/worried/shy is with a quiet tent! I paired mine with a remote-controlled light and I’m seeing lots of progress!
I got this tent, which is fairly easy to take down and store during other appointments. The tent can also be used for social skills (such as greeting by saying “hello” when I make my face visible through a window or the door and saying “bye bye” before I move it out of sight) and following directions (such as telling the child to put a small toy in/on/under/behind/in front of the tent).
Until all my patients are vaccinated I’m reserving the tent for one patient at a time (determined by the greatest need).
I also got this nightlight, which has a remote so that kids can use it as a cause-and-effect toy or even follow directions when I tell them which color to press.
BONUS: The light is really easy to disinfect.