Central Elem. Counselor Newsletter
May 4, 2020 - May 8, 2020
A Note from Your Counselor
I recently read an article that I wanted to share with my fellow educators and parents. As the mother of a young child I found the article particularly interesting and helpful. Keeping in mind that young children aren't likely to say that they are stressed and need help right now concerning the pandemic, how will parents know? In the article, Dr. Nadine Harris, the Surgeon General of California explains that children communicate stress through behavior changes which can look like changes in appetite or potty training. Children may regress (return to a less developed state) in their language or sleep pattern. Children may also become more clingy. Read below for key points taken from the article.
- When children are showing signs of distress parents need to check in with themselves. Children are tuned in to parents emotional well being. One of the first steps to helping your child calm down would be to calm down yourself. Dr. Burke's strategy is deep breathing. Deep breathing is quite useful in settling our brains down when it goes into "fight, flight or freeze" mode as a result of stress.
- Provide a safe and open place to talk. I can testify that I often shield my child from things that I feel are too scary for her however if you don't talk to children about their concerns and worries, they may make up stories in their own mind. Allow kids an opportunity to share their feelings about what is happening and help them make meaning of it. Be sure to use age appropriate language.
- One of the first things that parents can do to help kids make meaning out the current situation is to help them understand what they can and cannot control. Acknowledge what your child is feeling and then help them focus on what they can control (being a germ buster, staying home, or writing letters to first responders) is empowering for kids. Acts of kindness can also be seen as a healthy way to make someone else happy while also providing the child with a sense of control.
- Productivity and routine are great for kids even though they are not in school. Emotional health can be boosted by maintaining regular bedtimes and wake up times. Building in regular exercise and making sure children eat healthy nutritious food is good for emotional well-being.
- It is important for parents to maintain self-care. Family conflict may increase due to parents having additional stressors such as trying to control their own anxiety, teaching kids or even working from home. Family conflict can have an impact on children's health. Try to make sure children are not witnessing any physical, emotional or verbal violence. Dr. Burke states that "self care is not selfish".
Deep Breathing Techniques
Bubbles! Yes, blowing bubbles is a fun way to help kids breathe deeply.
First take a deep breathe in through your nose. Hold it for one to two seconds. Put a bubble wand up to your mouth and blow. Kids have to remember to blow slowly and gently to produce bubbles.