Mask and vaccine debate aside, we’re opening up. By fall, school will likely look a little more normal, but caution is still the rule. Need help getting ready?
If there’s one thing to keep in mind during the unknown, it’s this: Go easy on yourself! Forget being perfect. Build positive relationships, says local school psychologist Chris Moore — a “coach” on surviving the pandemic for staff and parents in Salem Keizer Public Schools.
“I encourage parents and students to focus first on relationship building and self-compassion, because growth and learning starts with social, emotional strength.”
The pandemic has forced us back to basics. “For example, if you’re struggling as a parent, it’s okay for your kids to see that,” he said. “But let them see how you navigate it in appropriate ways. They’re getting life lessons on managing a crisis! That means they’re getting tools to be resilient.”
So, what’s an appropriate way to navigate this tricky transition?
If you’re having a hard time, narrate your experience in ways they understand, so they see you solve problems, Moore said, noting he actually did this the other day with his kids. “I was frustrated that I didn’t have coffee creamer, so I said this –‘I forgot to buy more coffee creamer, I was really looking forward to that this morning but I’m grateful I still have coffee.’ I could have over-reacted, but took a deep breath and focused on gratitude instead.”
At the breaking point
When you feel like you want to scream, “Breathe! Then breathe some more,” Moore said. Give yourself time to calm your brain; go from raw emotions to reasoning. Below are a few practices he suggests to boost resilience and capacity to cope with stress:
- Get on a regular sleep cycle.
- Move your body daily.
- Connect with people who care about you.
- Take scheduled breaks from screen time.
- Get outside.
- Try a free, evidence-based self-care app, such as SuperBetter, Mindshift CBT or MindDoc.
- Ask for help and let people help you. You’re not alone.
- Offer the same kindness to yourself that you would to someone you care about.
- Be mindful and accepting of how you're feeling in the moment without judgment.
- Recognize our shared humanity and the reality that sometimes being human is just really hard.
More practical suggestions on talking to kids, based on ages:
Chris also recommends these resources:
- "Thrivers" by Michele Borba
- "The Whole Brain Child" by Dan Siegel & Tina Bryson
- "Brainstorm" by Dan Siegel
- "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen (& Listen so Kids Will Talk) by Faber & Mazlish
- "Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents" by Wilson & Lyons
- "What to Do When You Worry Too Much - A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety" by Dawn Huebner
- "Ruby Finds a Worry" by Tom Percival
- "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Before 25)" by Jesse Payne