Adapting to New School Norms
I’m a busy mum of two, a secondary school teacher, a guidance councillor and coach to teenagers and parents. One of the questions I hear often is ‘are we ever going to adapt to the new norm in schools’?
My answer is yes, but we as the parents and guardians have a big part to play in helping our children settle back into school, in reducing their fears, acknowledging their anxieties and ensuring them that they are safe and together we will all get through this.
“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.”Alfie Kohn
As a parent, I worry about the unknown who doesn’t but we can’t focus on the unknown we need to focus on the now, the present moment and our children’s health and wellbeing. Their mental health and wellbeing is as important as their physical health. The work of education is divided between the teacher, the environment in the school and the student’s home.
We as parents and guardians need to manage our own fears and anxieties to ensure our children don’t carry that burden on their shoulders, we need to teach our children how to mind themselves and others while encouraging them to be children and teens and to live their lives the best they can in these strange times. Yes, this is easier said than done but we must try, those little or big ears are taking in everything on they hear on the news and around them.
Since Covid I have worked with a number of young children and teens, today their biggest fear is “killing their parents or grandparents from giving them COVID”. My heart breaks for them and fears for the other children who are internalising these fears. As adults most of us have the skills to cope with these thoughts and feelings, our children don’t so let’s help them through this difficult time as much as we can.
Firstly, shower your child with love and affection, tell them they are safe, hug them, hold their hand they need to know physical contact with our loved ones is ok. Talk to them, encourage open conversations about what is going on in their lives and the world around us, when you are talking to them be present and fully attentive, ensuring they feel heard.
Second, we must mention phones and social media, we could talk for hours about the positives and negative implications our phones are having on our lives but now is not the time, one thing we know for sure is we need to be mindful of how much time our children are spending on their phones and various social media platforms. It is our responsibility to monitor this and to instill positive habits around phones use. We also need to leave my example.
Third, a simple yet powerful tool positive praise, this is one of the most effective tools to build their self-esteem. Having healthy self-esteem is really important as it helps our children make positive choices in their everyday life and helps them deal with difficult situations like Covid and the changes to their life at present. Praise your children for how well they are doing in school and extracurricular activities.
Other tools we can use to help our children during this difficult time: simple Meditation, meditation is a fabulous tool for children of all ages, it can be a little a 1 minute but it will help them slow down, be present and notice what’s going on for them. Worry stones for younger children put these in their school bags so they can use when they feel overwhelmed in school.
A balanced healthy lifestyle is crucial for all of us especially in this difficult time, children need fresh air, to exercise daily, ensure they have a balanced diet, drinking lots of water throughout the day and finally sleep, leave the phones downstairs and ensure they are getting a good night’s sleep.
Finally, teach them how to be present, you must lead by example take a moment each day with them to be present and expressing gratitude for something in your lives that day,
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”Alice Morse Earle