How Parents Can Help Their Kids Cope with Uncertainty Surrounding the Upcoming School Year

undefinedWith the recent announcement from Governor Kate Brown that Oregon schools will require masks indoors for K-12 students, many parents and children are left adjusting expectations for the school year ahead. We sat down with Behavior Analyst, Chris Messina, to discuss how parents can help their children handle uncertainty amidst and the ever-changing rules and expectations of this pandemic season.

How Can we Support Our Children as They Head Back to School?

Manage Your Own Emotions

By working through their own emotions, parents can maintain the composure necessary to help kids remain calm in such wobbly times.

Focus on the Language You’re Using

Focusing on the language we use with kids is important. Our words have power and kids will be looking to us to find the language to express how they’re experiencing this new set of rules and regulations.

Remain Solution Focused

Parents can remain solution focused rather than problem focused. We all understand that Covid is a serious problem. We are pretty much powerless to change that, so we need to try help our kids see what they can control?

Prepare your Kids for What’s to Come—but Don’t Overdo it.

This is a stressful time for our children, and we need to give them necessary information about mask wearing, hand washing, and the like. But try to avoid being an alarmist. While you will likely have concerns and questions arise when the school year starts, remember that your child isn’t the person to deliver those questions. Address your concerns directly with the school, and don’t expect your child to be the liaison.

Is There a Silver Lining to All of This?

Resilience, grit, moxy . . . life is a tricky business. As much as we don’t want to see our children having to navigate so much loss, confusion, fear, and sadness, imagine what this might do to prepare them to manage life’s massive curveballs later in life. This is an opportunity to practice modeling for our kids, if we allow it to be, which we know can trump any other method of teaching. Fortunately, we have ample opportunities during this period to model.
Additionally, this is a chance to practice staying “solution-focused”. It is very easy during troubling times to stay stuck in the problem-focused mindset. One of the most important things we can teach kids is problem solving and identifying a range of solutions for when we bump up against a roadblock. This is a skill that needs to be taught in context, and like it or not, Covid is incredible context, providing an endless stream of problem-solving opportunities.

Lastly, the only antidote to conflict is compassion. Leading with compassion - for our ex-spouse, for teachers, for school administrators, for parents who have differing opinions about Covid - is the single most important behavior we can model for our kids.

If you would like to speak with Chris Messina further about how you can support your children as they head back to school during this time, give our office a call at (503) 227-0200 to speak with our Director of Client Partnerships, Steve Altishin, who can provide you a referral.