Grow and Thrive

Resources and Ideas From Your School Counselor

April 16, 2020

Dear Parents,

I've titled this newsletter Grow and Thrive, because I sincerely believe that our children can continue to grow and thrive even though their lives and daily routines have changed dramatically over the last few weeks. We are going through a time when life is expecting a lot from us. But I have no doubt that students and families will rise to the occasion, and that there will be important growth happening within each one of us during this time. If nothing else, we will know that we can do hard things. Knowing this is pretty powerful. Reminding ourselves of this can help us feel less anxious, worried, and help us feel a much-needed sense of control. So, when your child if feeling anxious or stressed, acknowledge and validate their feelings, but then remind them that they can do hard things.

My hope with this newsletter is to help parents and students find ways to reduce anxiety and stress, to share ideas that promote a positive sense of well-being, and to share resources and articles that you might find helpful.

Please remember that if you need help with anything, you can email me, or leave a voicemail at my school phone number. I'm more than happy to help!

Sending warm thoughts to you all,

Christine Fitch, M.Ed.

Licensed Professional School Counselor

Kelly Creek - 503-663-7483

Hollydale - 503-661-6226

A Children's Book To Read Together

The World Health Organization in conjunction with several other humanitarian organizations has produced a children's book: "My Hero is You, How Kids Can Fight COVID-19!" The book “explains how children can protect themselves, their families and friends from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and rapidly changing reality.” Please note that the book is not intended for children to read alone, but rather with the help of a trusted adult. To read the book, just click on the picture below.

Time To Come In Bear: A Children's Story About Social Distancing

This cute and calm animated video explains social distancing with positivity. Watching age-appropriate videos or reading stories about social distancing can help "normalize" our experiences and helps children understand that many of us are experiencing similar emotions. This video is geared towards children pre-school through about 2nd grade, but older students may still enjoy it.
Time to Come In, Bear: A Children's Story About Social Distancing

Stress And Anxiety: The Importance of Positive Coping Strategies For Kids

Given the current circumstances, adults and children alike are feeling increasing levels of stress, anxiety and worry. These feelings can generally be managed by the use of positive coping strategies. As adults, we've learned what coping strategies work best for us and we can model positive coping to our children. However, sometimes children need different types of coping strategies, and they may need an adult to help by giving them some choices. I encourage you to sit with your child and talk about stress and anxiety with them. Teach your child that feelings of anxiety, stress and worry are normal, but we need ways to manage those feelings. Let them know that anxiety and stress can show up in our bodies, mood, and behavior.

During times of stress, our bodies might experience tight muscles, a fast heart rate and even stomach aches, and headaches. Our mood may swing from one extreme to another. Children might feel grouchy, angry, impatient, sad, insecure or scared. In addition, you might notice that your child's behavior changes when stressed or anxious. Their sleep and eating patterns may be disrupted, they may be more clingy than usual, or they might engage in more conflict with others or refuse to follow directions.

It's important to extend a little extra patience with your child, while still holding them accountable for following rules. You can also help your child by working with them to identify how they feel and behave when stressed. Then explain to your child that when people feel stressed and anxious, they can take care of themselves by using a positive coping skill. It's important to talk about positive versus negative coping skills, because we want our children to make healthy choices. For example, eating, withdrawing, hiding, or arguing with or hurting others might help a child feel better in the moment, but they are not good choices long-term.

You can use the sheet below to introduce your child to some great coping strategies. It's possible that they may have even learned some of these already! Have your child identify the ones they think would work for them when they are feeling overwhelmed with worries. Practice these skills together and remind your child to use them when you notice that they are feeling anxious.

If you have a printer, you can print out this sheet and put it on the refrigerator (right-click on the image). Then, when your child is feeling stressed, remind them of things they can do to help manage those feelings.

Mindfulness can also help both children and adults manage stress and anxiety. See the article below for more information and links to get you started.


Mindfulness Can Help Alleviate Anxiety

There's a lot of research suggesting that mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety. What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness means paying close attention to our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment through focused listening and purposeful breathing. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we're sensing in the present moment, and we let go of worries and other stressful thoughts. Practicing mindfulness helps to calm and focus our brains, and improves our sense of well-being. People can practice mindfulness in different ways. Once you learn how, you can practice mindfulness on your own whenever you need to. Below is a link to a website that teaches adults six mindful exercises. The second link is for your child. It will take you to Cosmic Kids, a fun and engaging website with mindfulness activities, yoga routines, and other fun balance and strength activities.