As parents, so much is weighing on our hearts and minds as we all navigate back to school during a pandemic. I know many of us are worried about our kids' emotional well-being. I know that I am!! So I've been looking for tips to help us all sets our tweens and teens up for success during this unprecedented school year. Here's a list as well as some links to some resources:
1. Establish a reliable routine
According to psychologist and author Dr. Lisa Damour, "routines are the best way to ensure that critical needs get met." Unstructured time lends itself to poor sleeping and eating habits as well as lots of screen time.
2. Find safe ways for them to see their friends (if possible)
3. Strong, supportive relationships at home
Damour claims that "having parents who are kind, patient and predictable can help teenagers buffer the chronic stress of living under Covid-19." Damour says that research demonstrates that kids who have faced major life stressors were able to manage life, even thrive due to strong, supportive relationships at home.
4. Spend time with other adults (important for teens)
Find caring adults who can help mentor your teen to make up for the loss of in-person connection. Maybe a teacher, coach, youth pastor, other family or friends (not parents). Damour suggests even bartering with another friend to mentor each others' teens.
5. Take time to learn new skills for assisting with school technology
6. Give yourself A LOT of grace
You have a lot on your plate to navigate online learning, your child's social / emotional needs, etc. along with work, keeping up the home, etc. And #5, you are IT support, too. UGH. Author, parent coach Rachel Simmons asks the question, "what can you let go of right now?" to help support your child in their online learning.
7. Find one or two parents in your community who can help you if you need support
8. Encourage screen-free time / time outside in nature
9. Find ways for your child (your family) to give / spread kindness to others / safely volunteer
We are working on a list of ideas for tweens and teens to serve safely or from a distance and look forward to sharing with you.
10. Continue to encourage & model healthy coping skills and then move into adaptation.
We've all been coping and waiting for the pandemic to end, but Damour says as it continues, we need to move into adaptation. And that starts with making healthy coping skills a habit. Weave your priorities / healthy coping skills into your daily routines - whether that is a faith practice, self care, social support, good sleep habits, exercise, etc.