This time has tested our patience and resilience. Through many ups and downs, we now find ourselves in a world where schools, restaurants and other establishments are opening up, and sports activities are returning to normal. We actually get to see how people look as some areas no longer require masks.
While restrictions are being lifted, the fear may not quite yet leave us which is why we get to learn to manage it rather than let it run our lives.
We are all in this together!
Teachers and schools have a huge adjustment and are dealing with logistical and organizational nightmare. I have already heard horror stories of the chaotic first day of school so please be prepared and expect things may not go smoothly. Take deep breaths and give everyone grace.
Give kids grace as they are antsier and more dysregulated than normal. They are emerging from slumber and being unplugged from their screens which is their comfort zone and in many cases a way to numb out and cope. Expect anxiety, fears, meltdowns and things that don;t make any sense to you. Just seek to understand it and give grace.
Give other parents grace. So everyone is a bit snapier and short fused. Perhaps another parent cuts you off in drop off traffic, or you experience a previously friendly parent not even looking at you. Give grace. Understand that just like you they too are stressed out and it is not about you.
Give yourself grace. Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself some grace. Acknowledge yourself for all that you have been through and all that you have done. Let go of being perfect and getting it right all the time. Realize that there is no failure: There is only success or learning.
Plan ahead! Don’t panic and start drifting under the circumstances. Manage your fears and worries by getting proactive and planning ahead! Get out of confusion by getting clear on all the details of your child returning to school, protocols etc. Reach out to the school/teacher/administrator if you are not clear about something. Instead of complaining and blaming the school about how horrid job they are doing, get the right information you need to create an effective solution.
Prep the kids! Many parents are worried about their kids’ social adjustment after having been cooped up at home with limited social contact. For sure this has had a significant impact on the kids’ social development AND they are super resilient beings!
Lately, I have been advising a lot of parents to practice social interactions via fun role play.
Together you can come up with scenarios that might happen at school. Write them on a sticky note, fold them and put them inside a pretty jar. Invite your child to play this game (give it whatever name you want). Once you have permission, your child can put their little hand in the jar and pick a scenario to be acted out. Make sure that the scenarios are related to your child’s age and actual challenging situations they may face at school.
Have fun with it. You can play the scenario going horribly wrong and then do a replay. Remember that your child is not playing him/herself but pretending to be another child, or it could even be animals which younger children would relate to. Your job is to eventually provide some guidance and solutions (WITHOUT LECTURING) to common challenges and social conflicts that happen in school.
I believe in the power of intention. Most of creation and our life experience stems from having a strong vision for how we want things to go. This is why it is important to sit down with your kids and talk about their vision for this school year.
You get to inspire and empower your kids to be who THEY desire to be vs. you just telling them to be “kind” or “nice”. Make a vision board together where all this is expressed in pictures and inspirational phrases.
If breakdowns happen, you now have a powerful tool to assist your child in being aligned with who they want to be in this world. You don’t need to guilt trip or shame your child by being judgemental if they did not keep their word as their word is really to themselves and not you. THEY get to be responsible and also face the consequences of their actions if they don’t show up the way they want to.
Most importantly, you get to model how to live and be this way yourself.
Paula is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been in the field of mental health for over 20 years. She has ran and operated her private practice since 2009. Paula holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from SDSU. She also has a diploma in Montessori Teaching method from Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). In addition, Paula has a Yoga Teacher Certification (RYT-200) and is a trained EMDR, Sandplay and Play Therapist.
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