Counselor's Corner

Liz Parker, School Counselor, Hominy Valley Elementary

Dear HVE Families,

I hope this newsletter finds you safe, healthy, and warm, on this chilly February day. This has definitely been a roller coaster of a school year, with many challenges for our students, families, and staff. If there are things I can do to support you and your student, while we are learning remotely or when we return face-to-face, please let me know!

- Ms. P

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Rapid Resets for Calming Down

One thing I've heard from a lot of families this school year is that their children are having big emotional reactions to relatively small problems. (That may be true for the grownups too!) When a child is upset, our quick reaction as adults is often to try to talk to them about what's wrong. However, as the students and I often discuss in class together, when someone has "flipped their lid" and the emotional part of their brain is in control, it can be hard for them to think clearly and access language. This means that when a child is upset, talking about what's wrong may actually be very difficult for them.

I recently attended an online training through Resources for Resilience, where we reviewed some strategies (we call them Rapid Resets) to use in the moment when someone is upset. These are simple tasks that a person can accomplish without much talking, that can help them focus their senses on their body and the world around them. That act of focusing can remind the upset brain that the person is actually safe, which means the problem at hand must not be an emergency. Try some of these strategies the next time someone in your household flips their lid (even if it's you). You can also practice these strategies during times that everyone feels calm, so that you're more ready to use them when you're not calm. Once an upset person is noticeably calmer, then you can try to talk about what's going on.

  • Ground yourself. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and just notice the way that your seat, the floor, or the ground is holding you up.
  • Take a sip of water, juice, or tea. Notice the feeling of the liquid going down your throat.
  • Stand with your hands against a wall and do a pushup.
  • Go for a walk. It can be outside, or just around the room, but notice how you feel as you take each step.
  • Sing or hum. Music is awesome, and the act of singing or humming gives you a sensory experience because of the vibrations.
  • Do heavy work, like pushing, pulling or lifting. When I feel anxious about things at home, I often fill and refill watering cans and carry them to my garden.
  • Orient yourself to your surroundings by sitting still and just looking around the room. When the students and I use this strategy, we like to try to find five different things of their favorite color. (Favorite colors are a *very* big deal in elementary school.)
  • Cross your arms across your chest and slowly alternate tapping each shoulder with the opposite hand. It's a soothing exercise, and because you cross the midline of your body it uses both hemispheres of your brain.

Homework from Ms. Parker

  • Take some time for yourself today. Caring for the children in your life is pretty non-stop (especially during these weeks of remote learning) and it can be easy to get to the end of the day and realize you took care of everyone's needs but your own. Schedule some time today to read a book, watch your favorite show, go for a run, do some hula-hooping, call a friend, or just do *something* that's for you and not for your kids.
  • Does your amazing HVE student have an amazing younger sibling who will be 5 by August 31st? If so, call the school to schedule an appointment for Kindergarten registration. A lot of the things on your to-do list might feel like big hurdles, but making that appointment is a task you can complete in about 5 minutes. Doesn't it feel great to check something off the list? Bonus points for mentioning Kindergarten registration to a friend who has a 5-year-old too!
  • Take some deep breaths. What you're doing to support your child right now is incredibly hard. Here is a video from Go Noodle that you can watch with your child while you take deep breaths together! (Grab some bubbles before you get started if you have some!)
  • Let me know what I can do to support your child and your family. My contact information is listed below.