Weekly Wellness Update
What to Say to Kids? How to Stay Sane At Home? Taken from macnamara.ca (April 3, 2020)
"We Cannot Lead a Child Whose Heart We Do Not Have - Dr Debrorah Macnamara
When we are facing separation and stressful situations, our emotional system can get busy with three powerful emotions – frustration, alarm, and intense pursuit for connection.
DR DEBORAH MACNAMARA
These emotions can lead to problems such as angry outbursts, anxiety, and restless energy. Play is the best release for these emotions because it isn’t real, doesn’t count for anything or have consequences, and allows for emotional expression without repercussion to one’s closest relationships. In other words, you shouldn’t be getting into trouble for something that isn’t real and doesn’t really hurt anyone. The challenge of stress is how it can stir up overwhelming emotions that we don’t have names for and can’t be expressed. Children often don’t have a conscious awareness of how they are stirred up and this is where play comes in.
The kind of play I am talking about can be done on their own (this is really beneficial for their development), with you, and/or other children in the same house. You may want to gather your kids in the morning and play or do activities, while setting up a routine for quiet time or play in the afternoon. If they are playing, it can give you the time you need to get other things done as well. For the most part, video games, TV and screen time that is entertainment based are really not true play but they may be required ‘babysitters’ when sanity and boiling frustration are on the line, in other words – use them as a last resort if you can.
Focus on the here and now – In times of stress, our emotions can spill out of us over the smallest of things. This is usually a sign we are overwhelmed and overloaded. Some of the strategies we use in counselling when emotions are too big are called ‘grounding.’ This means you just focus on something else in detail – like going outside for a breath of fresh air, play some music and really listen to it, stare at your favourite picture and really see all the details in it. By paying attention to something else for a short break, you can help your emotions settle a bit and provide yourself with some emotional rest.
Each day is a new one, and sometimes in the middle of stress we just need to focus on what is right in front of us. Don’t have expectations of yourself that are unrealistic, while at the same time, don’t count yourself out as being able to figure out a way through all of this.
Learning can be fun and playful – Many parents are rightly concerned about the loss of a couple of months of school. Some kids will better accept their parent in a teaching role than others. Some kids will want to preserve their parent as a Mom or Dad but there is a way around all of this. The trick is to make learning fun which will serve to protect our role with them and reduce a child’s resistance to learning. If school is ‘work’ we may find more resistance to our requests, but if we inject some fun into it with contests or games, kids will likely play along and learn at the same time.
The important thing to remember is that we need to lead through this time of great uncertainty and stress. This means we watch for signs when our kids are struggling such a stomach aches which could mean anxiety, to nightmares. We need to lead them to eat, to play, to sleep, to wash their hands, and more. This is best done through relationship and conveying a sense of delight, enjoyment, and warmth.
I wish you and your family all the best in these trying times.
Lorrie Holmes, is the Editor of Kids News & Reviews which is a popular blog followed by kids, parents, and early childhood educators & experts and also elementary school teachers.
It is Helpful to Get Them Moving in the Direction You Want Before They Are Moving in the Direction You Don’t Want. DR DEBORAH MACNAMARA
Morning times may be reserved for high energy activities aimed at tiring them out and burning off steam such as dance parties, to building forts, to obstacle courses.
It may be helpful to sketch out a rough idea for the flow of your day including eating, sleeping routines, as well as play and/or learning. If you try it out and it doesn’t work, then the next day can bring a new routine and flow with it too. Humans are adaptable and we can adjust to new routines and ways of being. The important thing is for adults to lead kids into these routines – for our own sanity and their security.
Play helps release emotions and to reduce alarm. You might think play is frivolous time, but the science of play demonstrates its critical importance in helping to cope with emotions and to reduce anxiety
macnamara.ca (April 3, 2020)