Brian Crombie with Dr. Ewa J. Antczak on Dealing with Stress Because of COVID-19
The Weakest Link and Cyber Renaissance
Few weeks ago, we were asked to work and learn from home. For some of us it is a new experience and it can be overwhelming. Over the night, we became full time parents, teachers and caregivers. To fulfill these expectations, we need to create new routines, learn new skills and cope with difficult behaviours. Being a teacher for your own child can be draining, especially if the child experiences some diagnosed or undiagnosed learning problems. Some parents feel sad, angry and helpless. We want to help but we don’t know how?
Here are some tips that can help parents deal with their own sense of guilt, fear and helplessness.
- Change your mindset.
You are a parent – not a teacher – you have the right to feel lost in this new role or not be able to deliver a lesson. Do not blame yourself. Don’t put yourself down. You are a loving and carrying parent. You want the best for your children. Remember this is a temporary situation – it will pass. Even if your child is not following the curriculum it is ok. We are all in the same situation. Educational system is changing. School boards are working on developing educational strategies that will work. Be patient.
- Ask for help.
Consider hiring an online tutor for your child. There are teachers who will be happy to help. Most schools provide resources online. There are also private online schools that currently offer free courses for high school students.
- Teach your child to be more independent.
By teaching your children how to learn and how to search for information you develop their creativity, independence, resiliency and self-confidence. Encourage your children to ask questions. Do not judge. Praise them verbally for being curious and show your interest in things that are interesting for them. Let your children know that it is ok not to know everything. Show them how they can search for information online, from books or other sources, for instance, who is the best person to ask this question? Most importantly – make it fun for both of you!
- Encourage creativity.
Allow your children to demonstrate their knowledge in a creative way. For some children it can be drawing, for some writing a journal, for some making a comic book, interviewing you, writing a song, playing an instrument or dancing. Let them shine!
- Teach new skills.
It is a great opportunity for your children to learn some new skills. Being a parent means guiding your children how to become a respectable and productive adult in the future. This is a good moment to learn how to help around the house, feed birds, plant flowers, knit or appreciate art. You can also show your children how important it is to contribute to the community by helping others, volunteering your time and supporting each other.
- Teach your children how to cope with stress.
As a parent you are a role model for your child. The way you respond to stressful situations is a teaching moment. If you yell and scream, you can expect the same reactions from your children. Stay calm. If you need, go for a walk, sip some water or take a deep breath but stay calm. That way you are earning respect and demonstrate to your children that they can feel safe with you because “you have it all under control.”
Dr. Ewa J. Antczak, School Psychologist
March 31, 2020