In recent weeks, all of our lives have transformed dramatically whilst the world has been changing very quickly around us, and that too on a daily basis. The unpredictability and uncertainty can be overwhelming, especially as we hear different information on the news, online articles, social media platforms, from our friends and family and the wider community.
It’s difficult to make sense of it all as adults, and it is even more challenging for our children. What can be done to ensure there is some normalcy amongst the chaos? Taking some control back by fostering an environment with routines and predictability will benefit all family members and will help you manage your child’s needs during this time.
Routines, routines, routines…
Routines are incredibly important because they resemble a sense of certainty and provide clarity. Do your best to stick to a routine as much as possible and encourage your child to follow an age-appropriate schedule similar to a school day. You can create a large poster-size schedule which allows for some flexibility. Be mindful that we all need time to adjust to this new way of learning/being and if your children are feeling overwhelmed, give them the time and space to refocus and recharge during their day.
Helpful strategy: Shift expectations and priorities and give yourself and your child regular, short, breaks. Remember to model calmness for your children. How you handle this stressful situation can affect how your children manage their worries.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings
By acknowledging your child’s feelings of frustration, sadness, worry, or disappointment you are letting them know that they are being heard and this will enable them to then manage their own emotions. Let them know it is okay to have these feelings and that you will work together as a family to get through these unprecedented times.
As parents, your well-being is important too so do make time to acknowledge your own thoughts and emotions as it is likely you’ll be feeling the same as your child too.
Helpful strategy: Remember you are not alone in this; that you are part of a wider community all looking to help each other. Please have a look at the list of mental health and wellbeing resources to help you and your child.
Have a plan for screen time use
Now that children and young people will be increasingly using devices during remote learning, it will be challenging to monitor a healthy level of screen time, especially for the more independent learners and teens who are often in their own bedrooms for long periods at a time.
Helpful strategy: The American Psychological Association provides tips on how you can create a plan for screen time use. Click on this link (family media plan) or visit this webpage for further information: healthychildren.org
The BIS Abu Dhabi counselling team writes about how best to manage your child’s needs during this time.