As we’ve all entered another winter mostly stuck at home, you may find that everyone in your home is having troubling coping with more physical distancing. It’s important to “put on your own oxygen mask first” by engaging in healthy coping strategies. Once you’ve done that, make sure to help your child do the same. Here are some tips to help your child through another pandemic winter.
Talk to each other – and probe for how your child is feeling.
When we first entered stay-at-home time, I found myself stuck in my own thoughts and unable to put words to all the disruption. Our children can function similarly. We so often get stuck in our own head, or even whatever is on the screen that we simply forget to socialize with one another. In a time of social disconnect, our kids need extra connection time with us.
My kids have heard me be sad about missing holidays with extended family. They’ve seen me angry at them (…it’s a lot of “together” time here). But they’ve also seen the happy giggles of a family kitchen dance party. 2020 has been the year of ALL the feelings: anxiety, anger, disappointment, relief (of a negative COVID test). Share your feelings – within reason. It’s ok to show disappointment about having to do school virtually, but keep your ill feelings about another family’s mask-less decision to yourself and respond with something constructive, like, “We can’t control other people’s choices. We can only make the best decision for our family.”
Limit COVID conversation.
I learned this lesson around June. I couldn’t understand why I was so exhausted until I decided to stop reading COVID updates throughout the day… Instead, I chose to read updates once per day.
We’re still waiting to give our kids cell phones (so luckily, they don’t have constant access to the wild ride we’re living), and I’ve decided to give my kids highlights a couple times per week. I think this has helped them understand what is really going on in the world (hurray for vaccines!), just with limited time thinking/hearing about it. If your child happens to be a news reader, have a conversation about limiting themselves to updates, and explain why it’s important.
Use common stress-reduction strategies.
You’ve heard the tips: Meditate. Turn off the screen. Exercise. Get out in nature.
These things truly do help reduce stress. But I often find a list of tips can be overwhelming. In the midst of pandemic stress, I find small decisions can be hard to make – even as simple as choosing to take a walk. So of the next three options I’m going to share, just choose one to do as a family today.
- How do you teach a 6th grader to meditate? I like how this one is short and the guide changes up the directions just enough to keep your interest for the full five minutes.
- When we’re stuck inside because of cold weather, get moving with family-friendly yoga. If you have elementary or younger children, this yoga channel builds movement into fantastic stories.
- Do something fun. Identify a fun goal to work toward as a family! Include gratitude or a feel-good moment in your daily routine.
If your child is doing school totally from home…
Nebraska school counselors have shared this great advice:
- This is hard and it is ok to be struggling right now.
- Support students academically by giving them a public-ish place to do schoolwork (vs. in their bedrooms or even their beds!) in an effort to make school a separate place in their homes.
- Encourage students to shower and change clothing as they did pre-pandemic.
- Make sure your children do their work. Make them “attend” school every day!
- Completing tasks via the internet can be overwhelming and time consuming, so prioritize the things that are most important and let the rest go.
- Reach out to counselors and/or teachers if you are concerned about your student– we are here to listen, help, and problem solve!