As we adjust to a difficult new normal, how to help ourselves and others can be unclear. Making your own physical, mental, and social-emotional health your priority will help you support family, friends, and neighbors as they do the same.
3 Tips for Parents and Caregivers
Take care of your own needs first.Regulated, happy adults are the fastest route to regulated, happy children. Many parents feel pressured to do, make, be everything to everyone right away, especially during this time of crisis and upending. The best thing you can do for your family’s emotional wellbeing is to take care of your own wellbeing so that who you can bring your whole, healthy self to your family dynamic and the energy in your home. Taking care of your wellbeing includes making sure your needs in all sectors of wellness— physical, social, spiritual— get nourished daily. Get outdoors, eat well, stay hydrated, schedule virtual social time with friends, journal, talk to therapist; doing the things that work for you to be your best self is the best thing you can do for your family.
Don’t expect a specific emotional state from yourself or your child It is normal for children to display abnormal or intensified emotional reactions or engage in or regress to behaviors they normally don’t, due to stress. Expecting them to act the same way they do at “normal” school right off the bat doesn’t leave room for their stress adjustment; and, expecting yourself to instantly be perfect at teaching your child, working from home and living under social distance rules doesn’t leave room for your adjustment, either. All humans need time to get used to new things. Be patient and forgiving with yourself and your child. Conversely, avoid jumping ahead and expecting your child to be stressed or anxious without evidence; children on the whole are very resilient. Adults have a tendency to translate our own anxiety into a false story that our children must be even more anxious. Allow your child space for their own emotions that are different from yours; believe in your child’s strength and resilience; and allow their emotions to unfold organically.
Focus on connection, not perfection. Crisis times force us to focus on what really matters; human connection, love, hope, joy, gratitude. Let this time be a time to allow strictness to relax and to focus more on playing together as a family and enjoying each other. Some things matter more than getting every math problem on your child’s school assignment or nailing your to-do list; genuine loving connection is one of those things. Be present in the moments of play, joy and beauty, and allow those to be your guiding principles through this time.
10 Social-Emotional Learning and Self-Care Resources for Parents and Students during Covid-19
- For stressed or sleepless kids and adults: Calm App
- For curious children: Comic for Kids Explaining COVID-19
- To support compassion: Go on an SEL Virtual field trip
- For feeling let-down: Handling Your Kid's Disappointment When Everything's Cancelled
- To build and practice emotional skills in young children: Sesame Toolkits
- To express emotions creatively : Frist Kids - Art Videos & Activities for Kids of All Ages
- For getting some fresh air: Playworks- Outdoor Games to Teach SEL
- For parent self-care: Ten Percent Happier- COVID Sanity Guide
- To support children's mind-body wellbeing: Mindful Schools Free online classes
- For science-supported emotion regulation: Mightier- Biodfeedback Games & Tool