We’ve been sharing different educational resources for at-home learning. But we also want to provide some emotional support. For that, we turned to Alessia Guerriero, Lauren Rosenbaum, Mary Talbot-Fox and Megan Schmittel, four of our school psychologists from the Lower School, Secondary and Deafblind Programs, for some advice for how parents can cope with all the challenges.
It is all too easy to get overwhelmed trying to do it all — to take advantage of every resource available, to make sure your child does every bit of school work provided, all while tending to your own personal and professional needs.
Priority number one is doing what’s right for your family. If the amount of school work is too much, communicate with teachers and staff. If a resource isn’t helpful, don’t feel obligated to use it simply because it’s there. As a parent, you’re the expert on your family’s needs. Now is the time to use that expertise to do what’s right for everyone.
We’re all in uncharted territory these days, which means no one has solutions to every problem. So if you’re struggling to help your child (or yourself!) process stress, it may be effective to do something that has worked in the past. Maybe a tv show they used to really like but haven’t watched in a while, or a book you’ve read to them that used to always soothe. Whatever the case may be, it’s worth looking at what has worked for you and your child historically and embracing those things once again.
With friends and family separated from one another by distancing guidelines, it’s more important than ever to socialize and communicate in the home. You don’t need to make a big production of it. Bringing your family together is a wonderful social interaction, and is one of the best things your child has right now. Additionally, using the resources you do have to help your child connect with other people is beneficial as well. Whether it’s Facetiming, calling someone on the phone or even writing a letter to a friend or loved one, anything that keeps your children connected to social opportunities can offer comfort, connection and distraction from the stress and uncertainty (works well for adults too!) .
We know how much you care about your child. We also know that as a parent, it’s easy for your own self care to take a backseat. Remember, though, that creating space for yourself will better equip you to create space for others too. As the saying goes, it’s impossible to pour from an empty cup. Be mindful and include self care when you’re balancing your childrens’ needs with other personal and professional demands.
For instance, maybe you need a break. If you’re able, it’s okay to let your child play with an iPad or watch a DVD while you step away. While you’re taking care of yourself, you’re also teaching your child a lesson in independence. Every child’s needs are different, though so only you can determine what an appropriate level of self care looks like for your situation. The important part is that you’re there for yourself the way you are for your child.
Laugh. Exercise. Watch movies. Play or listen to music. Indulge your family’s sweet tooth a little bit. Read a book together. Do activities you enjoy to have some fun. We know your routines have been upended and that your family’s health and safety is at the top of your mind, as it should be. It’s important, though, to give yourself and your family permission to let loose and have some fun. Doing so is important both to your and your child’s emotional wellbeing and is educational in its own right.
Lastly, remember there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to any problem. Reach out directly to your student’s school psychologist with any questions or concerns. They’re here for you.