How to Help Your Kids With Their Anxiety During These Stressful Times...
Updated: Jan 16
I'm reposting this because we rounded the bend into 2021 but in some states, the stressful situation caused by the pandemic has just gotten worse, and so has the anxiety in everyone--especially the children who might have thought they were going to be able to go back to school in the spring. Here in southern CA, my son's high school has been totally virtual since March of last year, and this is now his senior year of HS which he won't be spending on campus with his peers at all. The pandemic seems like it has just amped up here in southern CA, as hospitals reached capacity for helping anyone with any conditions--Who ISN'T stressed right now??? These are unprecedented times--times of uncertainty, disappointment, fear. So how do you help your kids?
#1 TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST. I cannot stress this enough. Being mother to a child on the spectrum, I learned this the hard way by almost having a nervous breakdown trying to help him but not making sure I was taking care of myself first. It's true--you need to "put on the oxygen mask first" as they advise on planes, otherwise, you'll be no good to anyone. When I had to homeschool my son unexpectedly for a year, I had to have 2hrs downtime at night to sit and watch TV and knit, otherwise, I literally wanted to bite him the next day (and my downtime ended up being 12am-2am after I had finished dinner, planning curriculum, grading, etc! I actually ended up training my body to need less sleep!). MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF--PLAN FOR IT.
#2 WATCH FOR THE SIGNS OF ANXIETY IN YOUR CHILD. Look at the chart--anxiety presents itself in a myriad of ways, so WATCH FOR IT/BE AWARE. Some misbehavior might actually stem from not knowing how to take care of themselves/deal with anxiety.
#3 KEEP A SCHEDULE/ROUTINE. Even though we are at home, and many children are doing "school from home" or have switched over to full time homeschooling--MAKE AND KEEP A SCHEDULE FOR EVERY DAY. I did this when I was homeschooling my son--he had to be working on independent work by 8:30am every single day, 30min of work I left in a basket and then we would start math at 9am. I had a whiteboard on which I wrote the schedule of the day--if we were going on a field trip, or to a doctor's appt, or even just a walk for the dog--all of it was on a schedule. Kids feel better knowing what's coming next!
#4 TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS. If you have a special needs child, you may not be able to do this even if the child is high functioning, as many children sometimes do not understand their own feelings. However, you can read them books or show them pictures online of how people feel and ask, do you feel that way too? It's important that their feelings are recognized, and then you can take the next steps to help them self manage, which is the ultimate goal.
#5 HELP YOUR KIDS MANAGE THEIR EMOTIONS/ANXIETY. What is it your child needs? Can your child express his/her needs? There are many sensory ideas you can put in place to help your child calm down/feel better (see my site to get a FREE copy of 20 Ways to Get Your Child to Settle Down and Do Online Schooling, which talks ALL about sensory input ideas you can use to handle stress in your child! www.TutorPaulaBCBA.com). TALK to your kids about how they might like to get their anxiety out, such as punching pillows or jumping on a trampoline or taking deep breaths/meditating or writing in a journal--or any other ideas. Write down these ideas/post them so that your child can always see that there are OPTIONS for him/her to use and do when feeling overwhelmed. Make a pictorial choice chart if necessary, for special needs children who cannot talk, and post it up somewhere visible. We want to empower our kids, to let them know it's OK to have feelings of stress/anxiety--it's OK to feel scared or angry or upset--but it's also good to know how to handle these feelings and what to do when you feel that way. That is where the true power comes from--knowing how to self manage.
If it's stress your family is having over how to make sure your child stays up to date in his/her learning, or if your child needs more help than you can provide, think about hiring a tutor who can help build the confidence your child needs in order to soar ahead on his/her academic path! I offer a FREE 1hr consultation to talk with me about your situation and your child. I have almost 25 years experience tutoring both typical and special needs individuals (preK through adulthood) and over 4 years experience working as a behavioral therapist (and I also have a continuing ed certification in Applied Behavioral Analysis and am now a Board Certified Behavior Analyst). I'm also mother to my own son with ASD/ADD/ODD who has not been on campus for school in almost a year due to the pandemic situation here in CA--so I can understand what you and your family might also be going through at present. I can help you keep your child moving steadily forward on his/her learning path, while offering support to you, whether you are doing online schooling again, or full-on homeschooling and need advice/homeschooling help. Don't wait to get the help and support you need--SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE 1hr consultation TO FIND OUT MORE! www.TutorPaulaBCBA.com