Sending our children back to school is a difficult decision to make often leaving us more anxious than our children. They are excited to go back, but they don’t really have the big picture of the possible danger.
For us it is different we hear the news we see the stats. What do we do with our fears? What do we tell our children?
In a situation like Covid, how do we protect our children? What does this mean for them? How will it affect them? There is a lot we don’t have control over.
The best way to protect our children is to empower them and to focus on what we do have control over.
It is so important for us to have conversations with our children about going back to school before they do so that they feel prepared about what they can do and say. These conversations can continue while they are back at school too, to see how they are making sense of it and developing their perception about their new “normal”
Here are 3 aspects that we do have control over and some practical ways we can help our children
Maintaining our emotional state.
How we feel has a huge impact on how safe our children feel, so learning how to manage our own emotional state can help a lot. Our state impacts the influence we have on them and the message they get. In times like now it is not always easy to stay in a good emotional state.
In society we are taught about positive emotions and how we must stay positive and while that is a good strategy it is also important to listen to our negative emotions. When we dismiss emotions by just trying to stay positive, our emotions get bigger and louder.
Negative emotions are indicators that we need to take action. The action can either be changing our approach to a situation or actually taking physical action.
For example: Fear – is an indicator to get prepared
The Strategy to manage fear:
Acknowledge and be accepting of your emotion – I am feeling anxious and that is okay
Listen to the emotion. It is saying get prepared. What do I need to do in order to feel safe?
What do I need? I need to make sure my child can be as safe as possible
What can I do? I can get clear on my message and what I am focusing on, we can take every precaution that is within our control.
When we listen to our fear and take the relevant action the emotion has served its purpose and will usually settle. Sometimes that emotion may need reminding and reassurance. Each time we feel it, we can check in and remind ourselves that we have done all we can. The idea is not for the fears to go away forever, it is about using this as a process to manage the fear that keeps it settled.
One of the things that also impact our state is how we measure ourselves. The question is what is enough? How do we measure what is enough? Do we measure based on our children’s behaviour? If our children keep their masks on, if they listen all the time and keep distance, then it is enough? Here when our measure is on that result, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Our children are young and we often have no control of that and when our focus is there our frustration and anxiety surfaces.
The way we manage this is to get clear on what we focus on.
2. Our Focus
The most important part in focus is making sure that we focus on what we have control over. What is in my control, what is not?
We Can Control – our message to them (preparing them), how we are feeling, our consistency in teaching, what conversations our children are exposed to at home, how we empower them, our questions to the school about surroundings and rules, our focus
We Can’t Control- our children’s behaviour when we aren’t there, other people’s behaviour, other children
Our Ultimate Goal: That our children learn to take responsibility for their own wellbeing even when they are young, to learn and become resourceful adults, that our children learn resilience during challenging times. They are never too young to learn. Their brains are continually assessing and developing and if we direct that we will be more effective
Focus on the learning and message rather than on control. Notice the words you are using
Focus on the process of their learning rather than the result
Our message is where it all comes together and there are 2 aspects to consider:
What is the story we want to tell them?
Each person’s story can be different, depending on their values and the age of their children. What frame would you like your children to have about Covid? A possible story: We go to school because learning is important. There are people that are sick so we always take extra care of ourselves.
The Power of our message is dependent on certain factors:
A. Is it short and consistent – what are the top 4 behaviours we want them to follow?
B. Have they agreed? When we ask questions our agreement with them is not dependent on them keeping the agreement (as counterproductive as that sounds) but it is about developing an internal awareness in them of the agreement. That is what develops accountability, it is not something they just have.
C. Is the message is disassociated from person. When we state a message if it is attached to person, often the message or lesson is lost because the focus is on the person and not the learning. E.g. I am telling you to… You need to… rather than the statement of the fact. When it is attached to person it opens the opportunity for power struggle.
* What do you need to do?
* What can you do to feel safe?
* Do they believe they can?
* What did you hear?
* What do you think?
When we ask questions, especially when our children are young, the intent is not necessarily to get a clear answer, it is to get them thinking about it and formulating their perceptions
Are your words focused on what you want them to learn
Use a short clear sentence repeated often, this can improve how quickly they learn. Try avoiding long explanations that go over their head
Awareness of our state
The Covid situation is very challenging, but if we can take care of ourselves and take charge of our emotional states, we can be there for our children and ourselves, we can be consistent in our message and teach and support them through this. It is all about keeping our focus on our message.
These are just a few ideas and if you would like to learn more in more detail, attend one of my FREE Parent Talks where you will have the opportunity to ask me questions and get your solution in your situation.
Edu Core Solutions has partnered up with Shifting Perspective. Book your FREE talk with Gail Friend https://shifting-perspective.ck.page/aug_ft