Ages and Stages: Students and Emotional Health
Students have been in school for a little over a month. They have had to be technical experts as well as critical thinkers. This school year involved starting in a whole new way and embarking on a virtual adventure that nobody could have predicted in 2019.
Now that you and your child have the hang of things and everybody is settled into a routine, it might be time to do a quick checkup on your child’s social and emotional well-being. Children are resilient and tough go-getters, but sometimes they show us signs of stress that they need help coping.
In addition to wearing masks and staying healthy, Mental Health Counselor Ellen Cantwell said children may also be worried about friends or family members getting sick. To alleviate that stress, parents can do a few simple things to connect and help their child work through their feelings.
“Sometimes children may know that they are upset but may not be able to articulate exactly how to describe or process what they are feeling,” she said. “There are countless activities that can count as quality time – and they don’t have
to be costly or overly thought-out – such as going for a walk, making a scavenger hunt, doing chores together, doing a craft together, cooking together, etc. Parents can even let the child choose the activity.”
Since children may not have the words to put to their feelings, their stress may look like withdrawal from the family, lack of motivation to do schoolwork or in very young children, temper tantrums that are out of the norm.
Children of all ages can benefit from a calm down box with sand timers, play dough, slime, glitter jars, line mazes, coloring materials and other things to help them regulate their breathing and emotions.
Cantwell recommends apps that parents can use to teach children to take control of their own breathing and emotions in order to regulate their own behaviors.
“For younger kids, there is Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame that teaches young kids how to calm down and solve everyday challenges,” she said. “The app Calm helps kids (and parents) practice meditation in a section called ‘Calm Kids’ but also focuses on relaxation and sleep via their Sleep Stories function that tells tales to help users fall asleep easier. For breathing and visualization exercises, Mindfulness for Children helps teach kids breathing exercises that they can use at school, during sports, or anytime they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed.”
Parents can also benefit from doing the exercises with their children.
With so much on the plate of parents and caregivers