Back to School Stress Relief Tips for Parents and Children
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Back to school is typically an exciting time. You buy new school supplies, new outfits and get all ready to meet your new teacher and friends for the first time. But for many children returning to school in “The Age of Corona” this reality looks very different.
My daughter is starting kindergarten next week and being in California, nearly all public schools are starting the year online. This set up is bound to cause stress for both parents and children as families try to navigate the complicated balance of working, teaching, and supervising simultaneously!
Many families have either two working parents or more than one child (or both) making things even more challenging. So what can parents do to keep calm and create a calm situation for their children.
Fear is Our Enemy
According to license psychotherapist, Cathy Leonard, the first thing is to understand that fear is our worst enemy. Fear leads to anxiety and anxiety can lead to depression. Change is hard, especially during these times and change can create a lot of fearful and negative feelings. Parents need to dig deep inside and find their courage.
Many studies have shown that children replicate the energy of their parents. If parents appear fearful or anxious, children are more likely to exhibit the same behavior. Parents need to lead by example and stand up to face their fears.
Reframing Our Thoughts
One way to do this is by reframing our thoughts. In the current situation each challenge can seem more difficult than the last.
Maybe a family was just getting by balancing it all during summer, but school seems like the one straw that could break the camels back.
Ms. Leonard says that people can think about these challenges as positive and solution-driven. We should reframe to focus on the positive aspects of a remote back to school environment.
This decision is keeping our children safe, it’s keeping our parents safe and it’ s keeping our communities safe. Parents should also make sure each member of their families are getting enough of the three nurtures to cope with general stress.
A Parent’s Role in Education
As parents, we know that when we have children we are responsible for every aspect of their being. Education is one that we potentially are able to take for granted thanks to the amazing job our education system does to nurture our children.
But parents are all involved in the education of their children to some degree – whether it’s helping with homework, throwing the baseball in the backyard, involving children in the cooking process or leading by example.
This year, the role we play in the education process will look a bit different, but parents should not doubt their capabilities.
I have never met a first time mother in her third trimester who didn’t have bit of a glimmer of fear in her eye. It’s scary. There is no manual for parenting. But when a new baby is born, even first time parents have natural instincts that kick in and are able to raise their children to thrive based solely on instincts.
The same is true for education. Maybe you don’t understand common core math – I get it – but you should not doubt that you will succeed in your role as parental educator in this situation.
We know our children best and the most important job we have now is to read their cues – know when they have “Zoom-fatigue” or need a break, or need to jump on the trampoline instead of doing homework. If we are gracious and expect things not to go as plan, we will be pleasantly surprised when more often than not, they do.
Most importantly, stay calm. Your children will watch you for cues on how they should act. Go into it with the attitude that you might not know what to expect, but that it is OK! It can be an adventure you can share together.
As many schools open remotely, parents have no idea what to expect. Neither do kids! It can be hard to prepare with no information, but creating a work station for your child can be a good first step.
Here are some things we have bought to help us prepare for the first day or school. Even though school starts in three days and we have zero information, having this work station set up has made my daughter much more calm (and excited) about the year ahead.
A small children’s desk
A new coloring book or fun gift unrelated to school
A white board calendar and dry erase markers